By Mick Krever and Ken Olshansky, CNN
The foreign minister of Iraqi Kurdistan on Wednesday issued a desperate plea for American and Western intervention to halt the advance of ISIS extremists.
“We are left alone in the front to fight the terrorists of ISIS,” Falah Mustafa Bakir told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour.
“I believe the United States has a moral responsibility to support us, because this is a fight against terrorism, and we have proven to be pro-democracy, pro-West, and pro-secularism.”
While much of the world's attention has recently been focused on Gaza, ISIS has been sweeping across northern Iraq.
Over the weekend, ISIS forces captured a string of towns controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who, after the near-collapse of the Iraqi army in June, have been seen as the only force capable of confronting ISIS.
Bakir said that Kurdish forces have started to reverse the defensive tack they were forced to take over the weekend.
“This is something way beyond the capacity of the Iraqi air forces. We need the United States and NATO to interfere because we are fighting on behalf of all those who are against terrorism.”
“The U.S. troops have left; the six Iraqi divisions have disappeared. Now it’s only the Peshmerga forces facing these terrorist groups, who have captured all these advanced and sophisticated weaponry from the Iraqi army.”
“And the irony is that we are using outdated, Russian weapons, and the terrorists are using sophisticated and advanced American weapons against us.”
Among the towns captured was Sinjar, home to many Yazidi, a small religious sect whose members are particular targets for the Sunni extremists of ISIS.
Thousands fled with barely any supplies, many into nearby mountains where they're stranded and surrounded by the extremists. They face starvation and dehydration.
While the United States has said it is “actively monitoring the situation” and is providing assistance to the Peshmerga, there seems to be no appetite for a more substantive American intervention in Iraq.
“We have listened to [people] supporting our experience, supporting us. This is now time for action.”
“We have made some progress and we will continue. We are determined in order to take all the areas that have been taken by ISIS back. But we need support, and that support would be in way of airstrikes but also weapons and ammunition.”
“This is a terrorist organization that has declared the war on all those who are against them. So therefore it’s not only the responsibility of Kurdistan. If we are not able to stop them here, they would continue and pose a threat to other countries as well.”