Obama authorizes airstrikes in Iraq
WASHINGTON – President Obama, saying that he was acting to avert a threatened genocide, announced that he had authorized airstrikes against Sunni militants who have advanced quickly across northern Iraq, driving tens of thousands of people out of their towns and villages.
In addition to the threat of airstrikes, Obama said U.S. cargo planes had dropped supplies to the refugees in the area of Mt. Sinjar, who faced the risk of imminent starvation.
“Today, America is coming to help,” Obama said in brief remarks from the White House.
Obama repeated his vow that no American combat troops would be sent back to Iraq, saying that “as commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.”
But Obama shed little light on how long the U.S. is prepared to conduct airstrikes and what he would do if air power alone fails to halt the militants’ advance.
The refugees, primarily members of the Yazidi religious sect, “have fled for their lives,” Obama said. “And thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs. They’re without food; they’re without water. People are starving. And children are dying of thirst.”
Meanwhile, the militants “have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yazidi people, which would constitute genocide.”