WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) – Thousands of families are reportedly trapped in the mountains of Iraq’s Kurdish region.
With them facing possible slaughter at the hands of extremists, President Barack Obama has authorized airstrikes in Iraq.
"To stop the advance on Irbil, I've directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys, should they move toward the city,” Obama said. “We intend to stay vigilante and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Irbil and our embassy in Baghdad."
?President Obama said that he has consulted Congress on his decisions and "will continue to do so going forward." He also said that the American advisers sent to Iraq earlier in the summer will "continue to assess what more we can do to help train, advise and support Iraqi forces going forward."
"My fellow Americans, the world is confronted by many challenges. And, while America has not been able to right every wrong, America has made the world a more secure and prosperous place. Our leadership is necessary to underwrite the global security and prosperity that our children and grandchildren will depend on," Obama said.
ISIS, also known as ISIS and the Islamic State, swept through Iraq earlier this year, seizing military hardware and overrunning many cities and villages. ISIS's actions have been against Yezedi and Christian minorities.
The United Nations estimates as many as 200,000 people have fled toward Kurdistan over the last 48 hours. According to UNICEF, at least 40 children have died due to dehydration or from violence in the region.
"Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, 'There is no one coming to help." Well, today America is coming to help,” Obama said. “We're also consulting with other countries and the United Nations, who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.
There is no anticipation to send U.S. troops to Iraq, the president said during the nearly 8-minute statement.
"There is no decision that I take more seriously than the use of military force. Over the last several years we've brought the vast majority of our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and I have been careful to resist calls to turn, time and again, to our military, because America has other tools in our arsenal, than our military," Obama said. "We can also lead with the power of our diplomacy, our economy and our ideas. But when the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action. It's my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief, and when many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action."
The aid and airstrikes is the deepest engagement the U.S. has made in Iraq since the full withdrawal of military action in 2011, after a full decade of war in the region.
"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 is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces," Obama said.
Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement, saying President Obama's actions are "vitally needed."
"For anyone who needed a wake-up call, this is it. ISIL is not fighting on behalf of Sunnis. ISIL is not fighting for a stronger Iraq. ISIL is fighting to divide and destroy Iraq – and ISIL is offering nothing to anyone except chaos, nihilism, and ruthless thuggery," the statement said.
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