By Charlotte Huffman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Kurdish exchange student is studying in Philadelphia at Temple University.
But his heart and mind are half a world away with his family in Iraq.
A pair of F/A-18 fighter jets dropped bombs on artillery positions of the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS or ISIL, near the city of Erbil.
“It is really terrible, it is very catastrophic,” said Huner Anwer.
Anwer is a Kurdish Iraqi. His family lives just 100 miles southwest of Erbil. He’s an exchange student studying at Temple University, and while he’s a world away, his thoughts are back at home.
“Every day I get up here in Philadelphia, the first thing I do in the morning, I want to call my family and make sure that they are safe because they’re in a desperate situation,” he said.
Kurdish fighters trying to protect Erbil are being overwhelmed as sectarian violence escalates.
“To stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city,” President Barack Obama said Thursday night.
While President Obama has authorized airstrikes and humanitarian aid, he stopped short of putting more boots on the ground.
Five U.S. military aircraft dropped enough food and water for about 8,000 people — many of them Christians and Yazidis were surrounded by ISIS fighters, including thousands trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq.
“I want the American people to know that there’s a potential for a humanitarian crisis, whether it’s against a small religious group, or the entire population Iraqi Kurdistan. I want them to know that there’s this crisis and we all have to step up and do something for it,” Anwer said.
Since U.S. troops left in 2011, ISIS militants have taken over key cities across Iraq. Earlier this year, the President sent 800 troops to help protect Erbil and Baghdad.
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