U.S. President Obama said he has authorized air strikes against Islamist militants in Iraq to protect American personnel and launched humanitarian assistance to stop a genocide. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
With Islamist militants surging across northern Iraq, sending tens of thousands fleeing for their lives, U.S. President Barack Obama said the U.S. will take limited military action to stem the violence. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SAYING: "Today I authorized two operations in Iraq; targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food, and water and facing almost certain death." Speaking after meetings with his national security team, Obama took action amid international fears of a humanitarian catastrophe. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SAYING: "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. We can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide. I have therefore authorized target airstrikes, if necessary, to to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there." Obama says he has no intention of sending U.S. ground troops back to Iraq (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, SAYING: "As Commander and Chief I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. Even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces." The airstrikes would be the first carried out by the U.S. military in Iraq since the withdrawal of its forces at the end of 2011,