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Obama authorizes airstrikes in Iraq "to protect US personnel"

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Original at RT

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President Obama announced on Thursday that he has authorized the use of airstrikes in Iraq if they are necessary to protect American personnel. He also stated that humanitarian air drops have been made to help besieged religious minorities in the country.

READ MORE: US considers "military options" in Iraq to save Yazidis, Christians

Speaking from the White House, the president said the air drops -- containing food and water -- were approved in order to help save thousands of civilians facing "certain death" from Islamic State militants who have them trapped in nearby mountains.

Obama stated that the self-proclaimed Islamic State has called for the systematic destruction of Christian minorities as well as the Yazidis -- an ethnic Kurdish minority in northern Iraq -- and that this declaration constitutes genocide.

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"Today, America is coming to help," he said, noting that although the United States "cannot and should not" intervene every time there's a crisis in the world, it must act when innocent people are facing violence on a horrific scale.

Moving forward, the president said that the United States is prepared to take "targeted military action" in the form of airstrikes if they are deemed necessary to protect American personnel in Erbil -- where a US consulate is located -- as well as the embassy in Baghdad. Additionally, he mentioned that air strikes could be used to halt Islamic State convoys if they advance towards Erbil.

"We can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide," Obama said. "I've therefore authorized targeted airstrikes if necessary.

Obama also said the US would be working with the United Nations to address the escalating situation in Iraq.

However, he cautioned that he "will not allow" the US to be dragged into another war in Iraq. The US president ruled out the use of combat troops returning to the country, emphasizing that there is no military solution to the problem. What Iraq needs, he said, is political reconciliation on the parts of its own citizens.

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