Local Chaldean leader reacts to Obama announcement on airstrikes in Iraq

SAN DIEGO - A local Chaldean leader who led a coalition during talks with the White House described the hope and tears of joy the San Diego Chaldean community shed when President Barack Obama announced the U.S. would be willing to launch airstrikes to protect threatened communities in Iraq.

“The world needed a game changer, and I feel like -- we feel like -- today was that game changer,” Mark Arabo said.  

The President’s address came three months after Arabo says he met face to face with the president to plead for this narrow mission, and they got it. Obama said the mission is not designed to stop the march of Islamic militants who’ve taken over much of the country, but to prevent a slaughter in Iraq.

The U.S. has already begun dropping critical aid in food and water to help the thousands of Christian refugees driven some 3,000 feet up a mountain top to escape the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Jihadist group who have taken over their homes.

“In Iraq, it’s just the worst crimes you could think of,” Arabo said. “They’re beheading children, they’re hanging the father, they’re raping the women and all because they’re Christian.”

The president has authorized targeted airstrikes on Islamic militants should they move toward the city of Erbil in the north.

“We’ve been asking for executive action, and he acted for humanity,” Arabo said.

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