Obama vows to continue Iraq air strikes 'if necessary'

Washington - President Barack Obama on Saturday vowed to continue air strikes against militants in Iraq if needed to protect US diplomats and military advisors.

Speaking in his weekly address, Obama said that he had authorised the strikes in Iraq to protect US personnel serving in the northern city of Arbil.

"And, if necessary, that's what we will continue to do," he said.

The president was due to speak about the situation once again during an address at 10:25 (1425 GMT) on the South Lawn of the White House before he leaves for his summer vacation at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Obama said he had also authorised a "humanitarian effort" to help displaced civilians trapped by Islamic State extremists on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.

The United States has a strategic interest in halting the militants' advances, but Obama stressed that it would not serve as "the air force of Iraqi Shi’ites or any other faction".

"We do have a strategic interest in pushing back Isil," Obama said in an interview with The New York Times, using the group's former name Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

"We're not going to let them create some caliphate through Syria and Iraq, but we can only do that if we know that we've got partners on the ground who are capable of filling the void."

Helping trapped minorities

Thousands of Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority, fled their homes when militants attacked the town of Sinjar and many have since been stranded in the nearby mountain range with no food and water.

"The thousands - perhaps tens of thousands - of Iraqi men, women and children who fled to that mountain were starving and dying of thirst. The food and water we airdropped will help them survive," Obama said.

"I've also approved targeted American airstrikes to help Iraqi forces break the siege and rescue these families."

Obama emphasized that the United States "cannot and should not intervene every time there's a crisis in the world.

"But when there's a situation like the one on this mountain - when countless innocent people are facing a massacre, and when we have the ability to help prevent it - the United States can't just look away," he said.

"That's not who we are. We're Americans. We act. We lead. And that's what we're going to do on that mountain."

But Obama vowed that as commander in chief of the US armed forces, he would not allow the United States to be dragged into another war in Iraq, from which it pulled its troops in 2011.

"American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there's no American military solution to the larger crisis there," he said.

"We will protect our citizens. We will work with the international community to address this humanitarian crisis. We'll help prevent these terrorists from having a permanent safe haven from which to attack America."

Obama also renewed his call for reconciliation among Iraq's increasingly divided religious, ethnic and political factions.

The first US bombings struck IS positions and at least one convoy of vehicles carrying militants west of Arbil.

Cargo planes escorted by combat jets made a second air drop of food and water Saturday to the civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar, the Pentagon said.

Read more on: is barack obama iraq
John Greystoke 2014-08-09 05:55:57 PM
Go for it Mr. Obama, you have my blessing!
Raymond Randall 2014-08-09 06:18:24 PM
Send these muslim rats to kingdom. Come USA !! they are nothing but savages
Ngubengwekazi Afrika 2014-08-09 06:31:57 PM
US intervention to "remedy" the damages ensuing from past US foreign policy interventions. If this isn't theatre of the absurd, I don't know what is. Americans are truly a nation of foreign policy retards, and they did the same thing in Libya, and want to pursue this same failed policy in Syria.
Noor Bhai 2014-08-09 07:04:43 PM
Still my question , where is the weapons of mass destruction????
mlindos 2014-08-09 07:13:46 PM
What are they doing in iraq in the first place
Paulson Meziri 2014-08-09 07:26:27 PM
Stupid one again, out to tarnish Nigeria's remaining image. Goat go.
Johan Kotze 2014-08-09 08:31:19 PM
Obama you fund and arm your pals in Syria, Egypt and Lybia. Then they change their name to ISIS and you bomb them only now? Why? They have been committing the most horrendous atrocities by slaughtering innocents for years. No problem then. Now suddenly the world is aware and you make some gesture of grand standing? The fools will praise you now......how shameful!
Jayden 2014-08-09 09:02:50 PM
Muslims can beheaded people They can kill in the name off Allah they can kill christians, they can kidnap girl's , they put bombs around their waste and kill innocent people and nobody say anything ,As soon as the shoe is on the other foot then it is murder get a life
Atti May 2014-08-09 10:11:40 PM
Kobus v/d linde from econofish ind ryt? Rem 1 day u will leave this temporary world and you(all of us) will be questioned by the god almighty for what we did in this world, lets face it what will we show? How can u give me 100percent the religion u follow is def the true 1? N islam is wrong? Rem 1 day we will all have to leave this temporary life and answer for our actions, so I tell u now islam is the true religion and is a religion of peace. One day I can answer to the almighty that that creation of yours I tried to call him to the true religion. May the almighty god guide us all to the straight path and not to the path that will lead us astray. Amen. Do some research (not media) authentic books and u will see. Go to a mosque and just hear what the Person giving the sermon tells us to do? Pray for our fellow muslims n make peace n follow god whole heartedly, Nothing of what u talk of sir. But rem ppl can talk bad of a religion n a nation BUT 1 day we all have to answer to the BiG Boss being almighty god. May we all get guidance amen.
Atti May 2014-08-09 10:17:42 PM
Why is it that only where there is major natural resources will the west put there finger in?? Afghanistan, iraq , libya etc are all oil rich countries ppl. N now on the banks of gaza gas was discovered. And this war was started by israel killing there own kids!! And god knows best.