WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that the targeted airstrikes and humanitarian airdrop efforts in Iraq he authorized two days ago could continue for some time. But he made clear that his administration would not send ground troops back to Iraq.
Targeted U.S. airstrikes American forces conducted in north Iraq on Friday have destroyed arms and equipment that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) insurgents could have used to attack Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, Obama said on the South Lawn of the White House.
"American forces have so far conducted two successful airdrops - - delivering thousands of meals and gallons of water to these desperate men, women and children" stranded on Mount Sinjar, he said.
Planning was underway for how to evacuate the stranded Iraqis, he said, adding that the United States would also have to evaluate "whether more U.S. money will be needed for Iraq."
"Now even as we deal with these immediate situations, we will continue to pursue a broader strategy in Iraq. We will protect our American citizens in Iraq, whether they're diplomats, civilians or military," he said.
Obama pledged that the United States "will continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces as they battle these terrorists, so that the terrorists cannot establish a permanent safe haven."
However, the president refused to give a particular timetable on how long the airstrikes would continue, saying "I don't think we are going to solve this problem in weeks."
"I think this is going to take some time," he told reporters before departing for a vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.
He warned that the new campaign to bring security in Iraq requires military and political changes and "is going to be a long- term project."
The president also said that compared with the Iraqi army's combat ability, the advance of the ISIL forces was more rapid than anticipated. "Intelligence military analysts wrongly estimated strengthen of Iraqi army, Kurdish forces," he said.
Obama said he spoke on Saturday morning with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande and that they agreed to join Washington in providing humanitarian assistance to Iraqi civilians.
In his weekly audio address Saturday morning, Obama also said the airstrikes -- to protect American diplomats and military advisors from advancing ISIL terrorists and to get humanitarian aid to civilians who have fled from ISIL in Iraq's northern region- - could continue for some time.
"Thursday night, I made clear if that if they attempted to advance further, our military would respond with targeted strikes. That's what we've done. And if necessary, that's what we will continue to do," he told the nation.
In the meantime, he repeated his insistence that his administration would not send ground troops back to Iraq after the U.S. pulled all troops out in 2011.
"I've been very clear that we're not going to have U.S. combat troops in Iraq again. And we are going to maintain that because we should have learned a lesson from our long and immensely costly incursion in Iraq," he said.
Obama admitted that most Iraqis don't want continued U.S. military presence, saying "U.S. troop presence wouldn't have helped Iraq avoid this situation, but would have risked more lives. "
"As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," he said. "American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there's no American military solution to the larger crisis there."
Since dispatching 300 U.S. military advisors to Iraq in June to help the Baghdad government confront rapidly advancing ISIL terrorists, Obama has insisted that the solution to the Iraqi crisis must be political through the formation of a new Iraqi government that brings in minority Sunnis and Kurds in addition to Shiites, who have ruled since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
U.S. warplanes bombed the ISIL fighters in two rounds of strikes near the northern Iraqi city of Erbil on Friday, after Obama authorized targeted airstrikes against ISIL on Thursday night.
The first strikes took place at 6:45 a.m. EDT (1045 GMT), when two F/A-18 aircraft from an aircraft carrier in the Gulf dropped two 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil, the Pentagon said.
About four hours later, the second round of airstrikes " successfully eliminated" the ISIL militants and destroyed "a stationary ISIL convoy of seven vehicles" and mortar positions being used by the extremist group to shell Kurdish forces.
The U.S. military on Friday evening conducted the humanitarian mission in Iraq by airdropping food and water for thousands of Iraqi citizens threatened by ISIL militants.
In the airdrop, conducted on Mount Sinjar from multiple airbases within the U.S. Central Command area, participating aircraft including one C-17 and two C-130 together dropped a total of 72 bundles of supplies, including ready-to-eat meals and drinking water, the department said in a news release, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The cargo aircraft were escorted by two F/A-18s from the USS George H.W. Bush, it added. To date, in coordination with the Iraqi government, U.S. military aircraft have delivered 36,224 meals and 6,822 gallons of fresh drinking water, according to the news release.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday that "we are not going to have combat troops in Iraq," admitting that most Iraqis don't want continued U.S. military presence.
During his speech on the South Lawn of the White House, Obama reiterated that the United States won't have combat troops in Iraq, but will have to evaluate "whether more U.S. money will be needed for Iraq."Full Story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Nine hours after U.S. President Barack Obama authorized targeted airstrikes against forces of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), U.S. warplanes bombed the Islamist fighters in two rounds of strikes near the northern Iraqi city of Erbil on Friday.
The Pentagon said the U.S. military expanded its campaign against the Islamist militants, with fighter jets and drones conducting two additional airstrikes near Erbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.Full Story
ARBIL, Iraq, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Displaced refugees in Iraq's semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan on Friday blamed the Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State (IS) for the loss of lives and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and welcomed the U.S. airstrikes against the positions of extremist militants.
"These strikes are too late, they should have launched them since the fall of Mosul on June 9," Sarkout Hama, a 34-year-old shop owner, told Xinhua in Arbil. Full story
PARIS, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- France would support international action to combat Islamist insurgents in Iraq and protect civilians and minorities in the conflict-torn country where fresh fighting forced tens of thousands of people to displace, French President Francois Hollande said Friday.
"The international community cannot ignore the threat represented by the advance of this terrorist group for the local population, the stability not only of Iraq but of the whole region," Hollande stressed. Full story
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the humanitarian situation has further deteriorated in Iraq, as armed clashes continue to drive the displacement of civilians fleeing the violence, including in Erbil city in the north part of the Middle East country, a UN spokesman said here Friday.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to provide assistance there. Full story