On August 8, in response to an urgent request from the Government of Iraq, President Barack Obama authorized targeted airstrikes against the brutal terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL:
“ISIL poses a threat to all Iraqis and to the entire region.
They claim to represent Sunni grievances but they slaughter Sunni men, women and children. They claim to oppose foreign forces but they actively recruit foreign fighters to advance their hateful ideology.”
The current U.S. engagement in Iraq is limited, and it has three goals. The first is to protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq. “American air strikes have stopped the ISIL advance around the city of Erbil, and pushed back the terrorists,” said President Obama during a press conference on August 18th.
“Meanwhile, we have urgently provided additional arms and assistance to Iraqi forces, including Kurdish and Iraqi Security Forces, who are fighting on the front lines.”
Second, the United States is supporting UN agencies in building an international coalition to address the humanitarian crisis caused by the ISIL.
“The United States will work with the Iraqi government, as well as partners like the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy and Australia, to get food and water to people in need, and to bring long-term relief to people who have been driven from their homes,” said President Obama.
The third U.S. goal is to pursue a long-term strategy to turn the tide against ISIL by supporting the new Iraqi government and working with key partners in the region. A peaceful transition of power is now underway in Baghdad. “[Prime Minister Designate] Dr. Abadi needs to complete the work of forming a new, broad-based, inclusive Iraqi government, one that develops a national program to address the interests of all Iraqis,” said President Obama.
“Without that progress, extremists like ISIL can continue to prey upon Iraq’s divisions. With that new government in place, Iraqis will be able to unite the country against the threat from ISIL, and they will be able to look forward to increased support, not just from the United States, but from other countries in the region and around the world.”