President Obama said he is authorizing the U.S. military to carry out airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic militants if they advance toward the critical city of Irbil. The U.S. has a consulate and a military operations center there.
Fighters from the militant group the Islamic State seized the country’s largest hydroelectric dam on Thursday, taking control of enormous power and water resources and leverage over the Tigris River that runs through the heart of Baghdad.
Speaking from the White House, the President said the U.S. military has already started dropping food, water and supplies to thousands members of a religious minority trapped on a mountain top by the Sunni extremist group Islamic State.
“These terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities,” including Christians, he said. “We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain.”
Mr. Obama said the U.S. can’t turn a blind eye to potential genocide, but he added that the U.S. will not send combat forces into Iraq.
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