American flag waving in blue sky

Written by Don Byrd

President Obama tonight announced an operation to help save Iraqi Yazidis, the religious minority trapped by militant extremists on Mount Sinjar without food or water after fleeing their homes. The mission includes air drops of humanitarian aid as well as an authorization for air strikes if necessary.

The President emphasized the need to act in the face of a religion-based genocide at the hands of ISIS.

You can watch the President’s remarks here. Read a transcript of the statement here.

The NYTimes has some key passages from the address:

Mr. Obama said those stranded on the mountain were subject to “barbaric” treatment by ISIS and were threatened with a mass execution “which would constitute a genocide.”

The religious minorities, he said, were faced with the choice of: “Descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.”

While the United States “cannot and should not intervene” every time there’s a crisis in the world, the president said, the current circumstances in Iraq — civilians facing the threat of mass violence, a request by the Iraqis for help, and the American capability to prevent slaughter — warrant action.

“Today, America is coming to help,” he said.

 Secretary of State John Kerry added: “ISIL’s campaign of terror against the innocent, including Yezedi and Christian minorities, and its grotesque and targeted acts of violence bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide.”