When ISIS invaded the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, its 40,000 residents, members of the Yazidi people, had a simple choice: flee, or be killed.
“This is a desperate situation, particularly for children. We know for sure 40, four-zero, children have already died. That’s the number we can confirm, but it’s probably much more than that."
But as the Yazidi continue to fight for their lives, Al Jazeera reports they'll have one ally they probably didn't expect: President Obama.
"They will be launching these humanitarian relief efforts. That would be airdrops, John, of food, of water, of medical supplies.
The Wall Street Journal confirms the U.S. government has already begun emergency airdrops over the barren mountains where the Yazidi are clinging to life.
And we also learned Thursday the U.S. air mission isn't limited to humanitarian aid.
McClatchy on Thursday reported U.S. aircraft attacked ISIS forces who were quickly advancing on Erbil, the largest Kurdish city in Iraq.
The New York Times confirmed the strikes, quoting a White House official as saying "The crisis on Sinjar had forced their hand."
The strikes mark a stark change in U.S. policy toward the region. In June, Obama said further U.S. intervention would come only in the context of "political reform" by Iraqi leaders.
Compare that to Thursday tonight, when Obama said: “When many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action."
As the crises have become harder to ignore, The White House has begun to link limited actions to Iraqi political reform.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest put it like this: “The dire humanitarian situation that exists on Sinjar mountain is a consequence of a broader failure by Iraq’s political leadership."
"There is criticism, and there will be criticism, from Democrats and other lawmakers, about mission creep."
While others think Obama hasn't gone far enough.
"Any vehicle on the road, any former American U.S. vehicle, Humvee, M-Rav's, we ought to be striking them."
President Obama took pains to note that whatever happens, U.S. troops will not be deployed on the ground.
This video contains images from Getty Images.