Obama orders targeted military strikes in Iraq to protect Christian minorities from the IS attacks. UN is preparing separate resolution to sanction key IS figures -- prevent recruitment and financing terrorists
UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council has condemned attacks on minority communities -- especially Ezidis and Christians -- by the Islamic State militant group in the Iraqi provinces of Ninewa, Sinjar and Tal Afar.
The president of the council read a statement Thursday night at U.N. headquarters expressing "deep outrage" at the Islamic State's actions against "hundreds of thousands of Iraqis."
The council's 15 member states agreed unanimously in an emergency session on a declaration that characterized the attacks as "systematic persecution of individuals from minority populations and those who refuse the extremist ideology of IS and associated armed groups."
The militant group, which seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East, is referred to by its initials, IS. It was formerly known as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
"The members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of individuals from minority populations and those who refuse the extremist ideology of ISIL and associated armed groups," Mark Lyall Grant, the president of the council, said in a statement.
Grant is the permanent representative from the U.K., which holds the council's rotating presidency.
Ezidis, a minority group in Iraq, have been targeted by the Islamic State, which calls them "devil-worshipers." Recently, 68 Ezidis who wound up trapped in the Sinjar mountains as they tried to escape from IS forces, died of heat and thirst.
Hundreds of Ezidis have been killed, 500 women were kidnapped in Sinjar as slave concubines, and 70 children have died of thirst, according to Vian Dakhil, the only lawmaker who represents the Ezidi minority group in Iraq's Parliament.
Ezidis, an eclectic religious sect, are an offshoot of the pre-Islamic Zoroastrian faith, fusing Manichaean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian and Islamic elements.
They believe in one God, and a Peacock Angel -- known as Malak Ta'us -- who, according to them, is the representative of God on earth. Orthodox Islamic scholars regard them as heretical.
Grant said systematic attacks on civilians "because of their ethnic background, political grounds, religion or belief may constitute a crime against humanity." Those responsible must be held accountable, he said.
Members of the council also urged all parties to ensure humanitarian access, and facilitate the delivery of assistance to thousands those fleeing IS attacks.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama announced Thursday night that he had ordered "targeted strikes" against IS. He said IS has now neared the city of Erbil, where some American diplomats and U.S. military personnel are located.
"To stop the advance on Erbil, I have directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city," Obama said in a prime-time announcement that interrupted scheduled programming on major TV networks.
The U.S. plans only air strikes, and will not be "dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," Obama said. He said the action was meant to save minority Iraqis who might be facing genocide.
U.N. diplomats in New York told AA that the Security Council is negotiating a resolution to impose sanctions on IS and other armed groups. And the Iraqi ambassador to the U.N., Muhamed Ali Alhakim, told AA that his country is working closely with the U.S. to develop the right approach to the crisis.
"If we needed any military intervention it is going to be mostly from the air," Alhakim told AA. He said Iraq is talking with other Security Council members to build consensus for a proposed British resolution regarding IS that he said would be adopted in the coming days.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told AA that his country would be "constructive."
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