President Obama said he has authorized “targeted” air strikes if necessary to protect American interests in Iraq from insurgent forces that are taking over the country’s northern cities.
If the terrorist group ISIS reaches Erbil, the president said he will call in U.S. air strikes. The U.S. has an embassy and other staffers in the city. Air strikes have also been authorized to protect families fleeing ISIS in the Sinjar Mountains.
“These innocent families are faced with a choice: descend and be slaughtered or stay and slowly die of hunger,” he said. Obama said U.S. combat troops will not return.
“As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be drawn into fighting another war in Iraq,” Obama said.
“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain, with innocent people facing the prospect of 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,’’ he said.
“We can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide.’’