WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Steve Ravina isn’t sure the U.S. should have bombed militants in northern Iraq on Friday, but he does know that families with relatives in Iraq are worried.
The White Plains worker said many Iraqis are finding shelter in mosques and aren’t leaving their towns, as militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) move north toward the Kurdish region’s capitol of Irbil.
“Right now there’s people who live here that have their families back home that are calling because everybody is worried,” he said. “I worry more about the families… People are losing their homes.”
While some may be staying in their towns, thousands have gone north to escape ISIS, an Islamic militant group that has said it wants to establish an Islamic state governed by Sharia law.
ISIS has captured several areas and is approaching Irbil, which has a U.S. consulate and is considered a stronghold against the terrorist group. Some of the 800 military personnel sent to Iraq earlier this year are also stationed there.
The military strikes began Friday morning and involved 500-pound laser-guided bombs targeting artillery units. Pres. Barack Obama authorized limited strikes Thursday night.
Stamford’s Rosalind Lewis, who visited White Plains Friday, said the U.S. is doing the right thing.
“The humanitarian aspect of it alone is enough for us to do something,” she said. “I mean, I hate that we have to do it, but you can’t let them die. What choice did they have? Come down and get slaughtered or stay up there and starve to death?”
The U.S. also dropped food and water to Iraqis Friday. Most of them were Christians and Yazidi, a religious sect of the Kurds who ISIS has been persecuting for their beliefs. The Yazidi have been trapped by ISIS on a mountain range, according to the L.A. Times.
White Plains’ Romina Amussen opposes returning to direct combat in Iraq.
"It’s a tricky point because you want to go in and help people, but at the same time you don’t want to get involved,” she said.
White Plains resident and elementary school teacher Justin Krauss said if America has to intervene he wants to see more countries help out.
More than 70 percent of Americans say the Iraq war wasn’t worth fighting in the first place, according to an NBC News Wall Street Journal Poll from June. Half said the U.S. has no responsibility to intervene, while 43 percent said it does.
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