Sources: U.S. Considering New Relief Mission in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) -
In this British Ministry of Defense recent image, humanitarian aid being loaded onto a RAF Hercules C130 at RAF Brize Norton, England en-route for Iraq, as the West tries to counter the threat from Islamic State (IS) terrorists in the troubled country.  (AP Photo/Steve Lympany/MoD Crown Copyright)
In this British Ministry of Defense recent image, humanitarian aid being loaded onto a RAF Hercules C130 at RAF Brize Norton, England en-route for Iraq, as the West tries to counter the threat from Islamic State (IS) terrorists in the troubled country. (AP Photo/Steve Lympany/MoD Crown Copyright)

The Obama administration is considering a humanitarian relief operation for Shiite Turkmen in northern Iraq who have been under siege for weeks by Islamic State terrorists, U.S. defense officials said Wednesday.

And as the administration weighed its options for targeting the Islamic State group’s strongholds in neighboring Syria, the U.S. Central Command announced three more airstrikes in the vicinity of Ibril and the Mosul Dam. The strikes by unspecified U.S. fighter, attack and drone aircraft, destroyed an Islamic State Humvee, a supply truck and three armored vehicles and damaged an Islamic State building, Central Command said.

The three attacks brought to 101 the number of U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq since Aug. 8. The northern Iraqi city of Irbil was the site earlier this month of U.S. airstrikes to protect Americans helping Kurdish forces repel the militant group. The dam was recently released from Islamic State control.

The contemplated relief mission would be the second recent U.S. military humanitarian intervention in Iraq. U.S. C-17 and C-130 cargo planes dropped tons of food and water to displaced Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq earlier this month, supported by U.S. airstrikes on nearby Islamic State fighting positions.

The administration is now focused on the imperiled town of Amirli, which is situated about 105 miles north of Baghdad and just a few miles from Kurdish territory. An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 people are estimated to have no access to food or water.

The head of the United Nation’s assistance mission in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, earlier this week called for urgent action in Amirli. He described the situation as desperate.

Three U.S. defense officials said a humanitarian mission was under consideration. They spoke on condition of anonymity. The timetable for a decision on whether and how to go ahead with the mission was not immediately clear.