Tonight in a televised address to the nation, President Obama announced that he's authorized airstrikes against ISIS terrorists in Iraq, along with humanitarian relief efforts. U.S. forces will drop food, water and other supplies for the ethnic Yazidi who are trapped in the mountains after escaping ISIS fighters. The president noted that the airstrikes will be targeted and that he has no intention of reintroducing combat forces into Iraq.
"Let me be clear about why we must act now. When we face a situation like we do on that mountain," the president said, "with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help, in this case a request from the Iraqi government, and when we have the unique capabilities to help avoid a massacre, I believe the US cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly to stop an act of genocide. That is what we are doing on that mountain."
Good evening. Today I authorized two operations in Iraq. Targeted airstrikes to protect American personnel and a humanitarian efforts to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and are facing almost certain death. I will explain the actions we are taking and why.
First, I said in June, as the terrorist group ISIL began an advance across Iraq that the US would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq if Tom and when we determined that the situation required it. In recent days, they have continued to move across Iraq and have near the city of Irbil, where American citizens serve. And where we advise Iraqi forces.
To stop the advance on Irbil, I have directed our military to take targeted strikes against eyesore terrorist convoys, should they move towards the city -- ISIL. We will stay vigilant if they threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including a consulate in Irbil and in Baghdad. We are providing emergency consistent to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces that the they can more effectively waged the fight against ISIL.
At the request of the Iraqi government we begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain. ISIL has marched across Iraq waging a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis. They have been barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yazidi, a small and ancient religious sect. Palace Iraqis have been displaced, chilling reports described ISIL militance rounding up families and conducting mass executions and enslaving Yazidi women.
In recent days, the Yazidi women, men and children from the area have fled for their lives. In their thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, now hiding high up on the Mt with little but what they are wearing. Without food, without water, people are starving, children are dying of thirst. Meanwhile, ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yazidi people, which would constitute genocide. These innocent families are faced with the horrible choice, defend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay in slowly die of thirst and hunger.
I have said before, the US cannot and should not intervene every time there is a crisis in the world. Let me be clear about why we must act now. When we face a situation like we do on that Mt, with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help, in this case a request from the Iraqi government, and when we have the unique capabilities to help avoid a massacre, I believe the US cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly to stop an act of genocide. That is what we are doing on that Mt.
I have authorized targeted airstrikes to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege and protect the civilians, if necessary. American aircraft have begun conducting a humanitarian drops to help these men women and children with water and food. Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried, there is no one coming to help. To date, America is coming to help. We are also consulting with other countries and the United Nations, who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis. I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these. I understand that. I ran for this office and forced to welcome our troops home, that is what we have done. That it fought to. I will not allow the US to fight in other war in Iraq.
American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq. There is no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces. We can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to Iraq.
As we carry out these two missions we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis. Iraqi leaders need to come together and forge a new government that represents the legitimate interests of the Iraqis. And that can fight back against a threat like ISIL. They have named the new president and are seeking consensus on the new Prime Minister. -- new Speaker. This need to continue to reverse the momentum of terrorists who prey on Iraq's division.
Once they have a new government, the US will work with Iraq and other countries in the region to provide increased support to deal with this humanitarian crisis and challenge. None of Iraq's neighbors have an interest in this suffering or instability, we will continue to work with our friends and allies to help refugees get the shelter and food and water they need. And to help Iraqis pushback against ISIL. The several hundred American advisers that I ordered two Iraq will continue to assess what more we can do to help train, advise and support Iraqi forces going forward.
As I consulted Congress on the decisions are made to date, we will continue to do so going forward.
My fellow Americans, the world is confronted by many challenges. And while America has never been able to write every wrong, America has made the world is a more secure and prosperous place -- right. A leadership is necessary to underwrite the prosperity that our children and grandchildren will depend on. We do so by adhering to a set of core principles. We do whatever is necessary to protect the people.
We support our allies when they are in danger. We lead coalitions of countries to uphold international moorlands. And we strive to stay true to the fundamental values -- norms. , the desire to live with basic freedom and dignity that is common to human beings wherever they are. That is why people all over the world look to the US to lead. That is why we do it. Let me close by assuring you there is no decision at a take more seriously than the use of military force. Over the last several years we have brought the vast majority of our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and I have been careful to resist calls to turn, time and again, to our military. Because our marriage has other tools in our arsenal than our military. It can leave with the power of our diplomacy, our economy and our ideals.
When the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action, that is my responsibility as commander in chief. When many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action.
That is our responsibility as Americans. It is the hallmark of American leadership. That is who we are. Tonight we give thanks to our men and women in uniform, especially our brief pilots and cruise over Iraq who are protecting our fellow Americans and saving the lives of so many were men, women and children that they will never meet. They represent American leadership at its best. As a nation, we should be proud of them, and of our country's injuring commitment to uphold our own security and the dignity of our fellow human beings. God bless our Armed Forces and could bless the United States of America.