News / Middle East

White House Explains Reasoning for Iraq Air Strikes

U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq, at the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Aug. 7, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq, at the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Aug. 7, 2014.
Luis Ramirez

White House officials said reports of the dire and deteriorating situation of Iraqi Christians and Kurds, along with the gains made by militants in the past week, triggered President Barack Obama's decision to authorize airstrikes and other military action in Iraq.

It was a combination of factors that finally brought President Obama to authorize U.S. warplanes to strike Islamic State militants and cargo planes to drop food and water to help thousands of desperate refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the urgent reports the president saw this week about the dire and deteriorating situation were the No. 1 reason.

"Those reports were deeply disturbing and certainly influenced the president's decision to take military action in support of the humanitarian mission there."

Militants with the Islamic State have been sweeping across northern Iraq, terrorizing Christians and Kurdish members of the ancient Yazidi sect, thousands of whom are taking refuge on the mountain where they have been without food or water for days.

Earnest says the second reason is the intelligence the president has been receiving about the militants' advances toward the northern Kurdish city of Irbil, where the United States has a consulate and a number of military advisors.  

“That also led to the president's conclusion that a more robust military action could be required to ensure the safety and security of those American officials in Irbil,” he said.

U.S. officials said the president decided to act in order to help the Iraqi leadership after seeing what he views as positive signs it is moving toward setting up a more inclusive government.  

Officials suggest more strikes are to be expected, saying there is no end date on the president's authorization for military action. Earnest said President Obama will leave the targeting decisions to U.S. military officials.

“He will not be in a situation where he is signing off on individual strikes, but there will be regular consultation from the president's military commanders to their commander-in-chief about the situation on the ground and about the strategy that they're pursuing."

Although he has set no end date for the airstrikes, the president has emphasized the United States will not be dragged back into a prolonged military conflict in Iraq and has repeatedly said he will not send American combat troops back into that country.

The latest U.S. strikes and humanitarian drops were at the invitation of Iraq's government, and the president has said the U.S. expects the Iraqis to resolve the crisis themselves.

You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
August 09, 2014 7:29 AM
Iraq, unlike Afghanistan, is a safe, positive location for military support or deployment. It's geostrategic location is conducive to US military action. The radicalist challenge there also calls for a military response. An efficient deployment in Iraq may even be in the global interest of US defence strategy, unlike the Afghan deployment, which has geopolitical conflicts perhaps because of its proximity to the Russian and Pakistani borders.


by: Patrick from: Ca
August 09, 2014 4:22 AM
Where is the world going? Putin is outa control trying to revive the soviet era, and we are trying to feed gmos to everybody, hard to pick a side, how bout this we all stop acting like tards!


by: Not Again from: Canada
August 08, 2014 9:08 PM
The President is correct, neither the Christians nor the Yazadis have attacked any one, nor are they armed terrorists, nor are they persecuting anyone, and both groups are approaching/nearing extinction in their ancestral lands.
The World is fully aware of the massive crimes the terrorists from IS have carried out against Sunni, Shia, and Christians in Syria; we can also observe the material that IS has posted, about their extreme brutality; in addition, Al-Baghdadi has made it amply clear that he intends to destroy all Shia, and all other religeous groups; he has also laid out his plans for a caliphate that would include Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon... There is no question or doubt that IS is a threat to the Region, the Western World, and clearly it needs to be destroyed. An Iraqi unity government, would go a long way in ensuring, that Western actions, in helping the downsizeing of IS would make it a feasible undertaking. Without an Iraqi unity gvmt, it would be very difficult to deal and carry out the actions necessary that will ensure the defeat of IS. I do not think that Malaki has the leadership attributes, that will lead to a unified Iraqi state, a basic necessary pre-requisite to defeating IS.


by: Reberd from: Kurdistan
August 08, 2014 6:31 PM
Good move. The world needs such decisions especially when the world is at risk of this barbaric ISIS terrorists. Also, provide heavy weapons to the Kurds as the strikes might not be enough against such a group.


by: Anonymous
August 08, 2014 6:28 PM
So no ground troops to Iraq. What happens if a fighter is shot down? Or malfunctions and the pilot needs to bail out? You are going to rely on the Iraq troop to find the US pilot? Can you assume IS has no missiles to fire on airplane?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid