Britain, France join US aid mission in Iraq

The United Kingdom and France will join the U.S. mission to deliver food and water to thousands internally displaced and under siege on a mountaintop in northern Iraq, President Obama announced Saturday.

Before departing Washington for a two-week family vacation at Martha’s Vinyard, Obama said he secured commitments from British Prime Minister David Cameron French President François Hollande to join the humanitarian effort.

“I’m pleased that both leaders expressed their strong support for our actions and have agreed to join us in providing humanitarian assistance to Iraqi civilians who are suffering so much,” Obama said.  “Once again, America is proud to act alongside our closest friends and allies.”

Under questioning from reporters at the White House, Obama stopped short of saying whether the nations had offered — or whether he had asked them — to also join the military mission.

Obama announced the mission Thursday, saying he had authorized air drops to the men, women and children stranded on Mount Sinjar, along with airstrikes against members of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who are holding them there.

Obama said the airstrikes have succeeded in holding militants at bay, while destroying arms and equipment that could be used to attack the nearby Kurdish regional capital of Erbil. 

He said the United Nations in Iraq is working to help Iraqis fleeing from areas under threat, adding that the Security Council has urged the international community to “do everything it can to provide food, water and shelter.”

“And in my calls with allies and partners around the world, I’ll continue to urge them to join us in this humanitarian effort,” Obama said.