WASHINGTON, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - US President Barack Obama said he approved targeted airstrikes against the Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq.
“We can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide,” Obama said late Thursday. “I've therefore authorized targeted airstrikes if necessary to help forces in Iraq.”
At the same time, Obama stressed that the US would not be dragged in another war in Iraq.
“I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” Obama said reminding that he came to the office criticizing the 2003 invasion in Iraq. “American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq,” he added.
Obama also said that the US aircraft began conducting humanitarian aid drops to besieged religious minorities in Iraq. The aid includes food and water “to help these desperate men, women and children survive.”
He also said that there was “no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq,” while the United States would “continue to pursue
a broader strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis.”
Obama urged the Iraqis to forge a new government, stressing that once Iraq has a new government, the US will work with partners to provide more support.
The airstrikes would be the first carried out by the US military in Iraq since the withdrawal of American troops in late 2011.
The Sunni group Islamic State (IS), previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS or ISIL) has been fighting in Syria against the country’s president, Bashar Assad. The IS launched an offensive in Iraq in June, taking over large parts of the country, with the goal of seizing Baghdad. Also in June, the group announced the establishment of a caliphate on the Iraq-Syria border. The Islamist caliphate includes regions with Christians and other religious minorities.
The Islamic State seized three towns during last weekend offensive, among them the town of Sinjar, which is home to many Yazidi Kurds. About 50,000 Yazidis are hiding in the mountains, blocked by the militants and at risk of starving to death.