President Obama announced he had ordered targeted airstrikes against the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Thursday night, should they continue to advance toward the Iraqi city of Erbil.
"I said in June as the terrorist group ISIL began an advance across Iraq that the United States would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq if and when we determined that the situation required it," Obama said. "In recent days, these terrorists have continued to move across Iraq and have neared the city of Erbil, where American diplomats serve at our consulate and American military personnel advise Iraqi forces. To stop the advance on Erbil, I have directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city. We intend to stay vigilant and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate and embassy in Baghdad."
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Obama said he would not be "dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," saying combat troops would not return to the country since no American military solution existed for Iraq's larger problems. He has been sharply criticized for the deteriorating situation and essential partitioning of Iraq since pulling troops out. The city of Fallujah, site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq War for American troops, fell in January, and since then the entire nation has fallen into chaos as ISIL continues to seize key cities and facilities.
In January, Obama dismissed ISIL as the equivalent of a junior varsity team putting on a Kobe Bryant jersey and considering itself on par with the Lakers.
Obama also said Thursday he had ordered humanitarian assistance to the minority Iraqis stranded and dying of thirst on Mount Sinjar, who are facing threat of extermination by ISIL if they try to leave.