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Obama authorizes targeted airstrikes, airdrops of aid in Iraq
U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday evening that he has authorized targeted airstrikes and airdrops of aid in Iraq amid a humanitarian crisis.
Speaking at the State Dining Room at the White House, Obama said that he authorized airstrikes "if necessary" against Islamic militants, who have advanced into the Kurdish region of Iraq and seized the country's largest dam Thursday.
Obama said he had directed U.S. forces to conduct targeted airstrikes on the militants if they threaten the American citizens and military personnel there.
He said that at the request of the Iraqi government, he had authorized the military to use airstrikes to help provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi citizens, many of them religious minorities, who are trapped on a mountain by Islamic militants.
"However, we can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to Iraq. So even as we carry out these two missions, we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis," he said.
The president also announced that the United States launched airdrops of food and water on the mountain top in northern Iraq on Thursday.
"In recent days, Yezidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives. And thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs," he said. "They're without food, they're without water. People are starving."
"When we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I think the United States cannot turn a blind eye," Obama said.
But he also declared that he had run for the presidency in part to end America's involvement in the Iraqi war, repeating his promise that the United States would not send ground troops back to that country.
"There is no decision that I take more seriously than the use of military force. Over the last several years, we have brought the vast majority of our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Obama. "I've been careful to resist calls to turn time and again to our military because America has other tools in our arsenal than our military."
[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 07Aug14]
War in Iraq
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