Friday, August 8, 2014
United States President Barack Obama appeared in the State Dining Room at the White House Thursday night saying he was authorizing two operations in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) insurgency. They were launched to help religious minorities who are trapped on a mountain without food and water that are “facing almost certain death,” according to Obama.
The first operation is targeted airstrikes against ISIL, and the second operation is to provide humanitarian aid to those trapped on the mountain. Regarding the airstrikes Obama said, “We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.” He added, “We’re also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL.”
In regards to the humanitarian aid operation, which had already started before Obama made the announcement, he said, “Second, at the request of the Iraqi government — we’ve begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain.” He continued saying, “Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive.”
|I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.
Obama empathized that ground troops will not be returning to Iraq saying, “As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.” Currently, there are 700 US soldiers in Iraq, mostly there to guard the US embassy and the international airport in Baghdad, facilities in Erbil, and to assess the capabilities of the Iraqi military.
The humanitarian airdrops were undertaken by “a C-17 Globemaster III and two C-130 Hercules airlifters escorted by [F/A-18] Super Hornets,” according to the Department of Defense.
According to a statement sent out by Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, “Two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil. ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are located,” early Friday morning.