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The USA is targeting the Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq. Several air strikes have destroyed heavy weaponry that the IS captured from the Iraqi army. President Obama said the attacks are to protect US residents in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region. IS recently changed its name from ISIS. The group now controls a quarter of Iraq (including the country's largest dam), and a third of Syria. Mr Obama made it clear he would support Iraqis but would not send troops to Iraq. He said: "American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq."
The air strikes are also to protect Iraq's Yazidi people. The Yazidis are ethnically Kurdish. Their religion has elements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism. The IS said Yazidis must convert to Islam, pay a tax, or face death. The UN warned of a humanitarian catastrophe and ethnic cleansing. Reports are that the IS have taken hundreds of Yazidi women hostage. Obama said the latest military action is also "a humanitarian effort" to help save thousands of [Yazidis] who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death".
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