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

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs