The Patriarch of the Iraq-based Chaldean Church, Archbishop Louis Sako, gestures as he speaks to the press following his visit with Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the central shrine city of Najaf on August 9, 2014
The Patriarch of the Iraq-based Chaldean Church, Archbishop Louis Sako, gestures as he speaks to the press following his visit with Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the central shrine city of Najaf on August 9, 2014 © Haidar Hamdani - AFP
The Patriarch of the Iraq-based Chaldean Church, Archbishop Louis Sako, gestures as he speaks to the press following his visit with Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the central shrine city of Najaf on August 9, 2014
AFP
Last updated: August 10, 2014

Iraq Chaldean patriarch says US strikes offer little hope

Iraq's most prominent Christian cleric voiced his disappointment Sunday at the scope of US intervention, which he said offered little hope that jihadists would be defeated and displaced people could go home.

"The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Arbil is disappointing," Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako wrote in an open letter.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday announced he had authorised air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq to protect US personnel in the Kurdish capital Arbil and avert a genocide against the Yazidis in the Sinjar region.

Three days of strikes appeared to yield some results, with Kurdish troops reclaiming towns southwest of Arbil they had lost days earlier and some of the thousands of Yazidis who had been trapped on a mountain managing to escape.

Obama has stressed that the strikes would be limited, and Sako argued that may not be enough to wrest back the main northern city of Mosul from the jihadists.

The patriarch described the prospect of having to wait for Iraqi government forces to start fighting alongside the peshmerga as "very depressing".

"While the country is under fire, the politicians in Baghdad are fighting for power," Sako said.

On Sunday, parliament adjourned for nine days, despite ever-increasing international and domestic pressure to agree on a nominee for the post of prime minister.

Obama and other world leaders have argued that forming a new, inclusive government was a prerequisite for any effective military counter-offensive.

According to several aid groups, the number of people fleeing over the past week of fighting alone has topped 200,000.

Among them were all the residents of Iraq's largest Christian town of Qaraqosh and its surrounding areas.

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