President Barack Obama said, “if necessary” he will continue airstrikes to combat “terrorists” affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) in his weekly address, which was released on Saturday. However, Obama also insisted the military operations he launched in Iraq this week do not represent the start of another American war in that country.
“As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” Obama said. “American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis there.”
Obama described his rationale for the two different military operations in Iraq. He described airstrikes near the city of Erbil as a “targeted” efforts to protect U.S. personnel.
“I directed our military to take action to protect our American diplomats and military advisors serving in the city of Erbil. In recent days, terrorist forces neared the city. Thursday night, I made it clear that if they attempted to advance further, our military would respond with targeted strikes,” said Obama. “That’s what we’ve done. And, if necessary, that’s what we will continue to do. We have Americans serving across Iraq, including our embassy in Baghdad, and we’ll do whatever is needed to protect our people.”
Obama described efforts to provide supplies to members of the Yazidi religious minority who are trapped on a mountain in the northern part of the country and deter further attacks against them as an attempt to stop ISIS from engaging in “genocide.”
“We’ve begun a humanitarian effort to help those Iraqi civilians trapped on that mountain. The terrorists that have taken over parts of Iraq have been especially brutal to religious minorities — rounding up families, executing men, enslaving women, and threatening the systematic destruction of an entire religious community, which would be genocide,” said Obama. “The thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of Iraqi men, women and children who fled to that mountain were starving and dying of thirst. The food and water we airdropped will help them survive. I’ve also approved targeted American airstrikes to help Iraqi forces break the siege and rescue these families.”
In addition to insisting these airstrikes would not be the start of another war in Iraq, Obama also said “the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world.”
“But when there’s a situation like the one on this mountain — when countless innocent people are facing a massacre, and when we have the ability to help prevent it — the United States can’t just look away,” Obama said. “That’s not who we are. We’re Americans. We act. We lead. And that’s what we’re going to do on that mountain. As one American who wrote to me yesterday said, “it is the right thing to do.”
Watch the president’s weekly address below.
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