Obama: More help for Kurds

WASHINGTON: The United States has stepped up assistance to Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, President Barack Obama said on Saturday.

As well, he said, France and Britain have agreed to support US humanitarian efforts to help tens of thousands of civilians besieged by militants on a mountain in Iraq.

Mr Obama provided the update as US aircraft launched new airstrikes against Islamic State militants, killing at least 20 insurgents and wounding 55 others.

The strikes had "successfully destroyed arms and equipment" belonging to tyhe Sunni extremists in northern Iraq, he said.

The bombardment targeted the terrorist organisation's positions in the area of Khazar, located between the rebel-held city of Mosul and the Kurdish city of Erbil, a Kurdish official said on condition of anonymity.

While he admitted that the advance of IS across parts of Syria and Iraq had been faster than the US expected, Mr Obama reiterated that the US would not commit troops to the area.

The ultimate solution, he repeated, would rest with the Iraqi government and people.

"The nature of this problem is not one that the US military can solve," he said.

The strikes are the latest since Mr Obama on Thursday authorised the attacks against the al-Qaeda splinter group, which has seized large swathes of Iraq.

He said the strikes, which started on Friday, could prevent a possible "act of genocide" against displaced minority communities, including thousands of Yazidis trapped on Sinjar Mountain without food or water.

US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes met on Friday at the White House with Yazidis to discuss their community's dire humanitarian situation in northern Iraq where jihadists have consolidated a foothold.

The militants' sweeping advances in Iraq since early June have sent many thousands of minorities fleeing from their homes.

In late June, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself to be caliph, and announced the establishment of an Islamist caliphate in the territory under the jihadist group's control in Iraq and Syria.

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