President Barack Obama announced that he has authorized limited airstrikes and a campaign to deliver humanitarian aid in Iraq in a speech from the White House on Thursday night.
“I authorized two operations in Iraq. Targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel and a humanitarian effort to save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water, and facing almost certain death” Obama said.
He justified the airstrikes by stating “terrorists have continued to move across Iraq and have neared the city of Erbil, where American diplomats serve at our consulate and American military personnel advise Iraqi forces. To stop the advance on Erbil, I have directed the military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city.”
The president reported “we’re also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL,” and that airstrikes are authorized “if necessary to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mt. Sinjar.”
Obama also announced “at the request of the Iraqi government. We have begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain.” The president described ISIL’s campaign as “ruthless,” “barbaric,” and “genocide.”
Adding, “When we face a situation like we do on the mountain, with innocent people facing violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help, in this case a request from the Iraqi government, and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain.”
As he announced the airstrikes, the president vowed, “I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq … American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq because there is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities, and stronger Iraqi security forces,” while saying the US “can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to Iraq … we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis.”
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