[Click image to be redirected to a video of Obama's speech.]
U.S. aircraft dropped supplies today to Iraqis threatened by fighters from the Islamic State extremist group near Sinjar, close to the border of Syria. All the planes safely left the airspace.
The airlift was precipitated by the plight of about 50,000 people, half of them children, who have been stranded in mountainous territory after advances by the militant Islamic State. The people are Yezidis, an ethno-religious minority. The militants have also targeted Christians, Obama said.
The extremists “have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidis people, which would constitute a genocide,” Obama said tonight in televised remarks from the White House. “The United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.”
Obama, who campaigned for office on a vow to end the Iraq war, and oversaw the full withdrawal of forces from Iraq in 2011, said the U.S. has no intention of putting forces on the ground. He said he authorized airstrikes against Islamic State militants if they move toward the Kurdish city of Erbil, where the U.S. has diplomatic personnel.
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