Barack Obama authorises “necessary” air strikes against ISIS in Iraq

Former US President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has announced the US will make any “necessary targeted strikes” against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq.

“When we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye,” said Obama.

US military planes earlier flew over northern Iraq to drop relief supplies to thousands of civilian refugees fleeing attacks by the Al Qaeda splinter group, a senior defence official said shortly before the US president was expected to make a statement.

‘The aircraft that dropped the humanitarian supplies have now safely exited the immediate airspace over the drop area,’ he said, after food and water were delivered to Yazidi families outside Sinjar on Thursday.

There was confusion after claims the US had bombed jihadists in the north, which was denied by the Pentagon. President Barack Obama was to make a statement on Iraq at 11:30 AEST, the White House announced.

Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Ali al-Hakim, also denied on Thursday that air strikes had been carried out against ISIS fighters.


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Earlier White House spokesman Josh Earnest said “It is a situation that we are looking at very closely,” following reports that Obama was talking with military advisors about options for intervention.

He said: “There are times where the president has taken military action … to protect innocent, vulnerable civilian populations from slaughter or other dire humanitarian situations.

“There is one particular situation that we are concerned about. There is a mountain near Sinjar where there are reports that thousands of Yazidis are currently trapped on that mountain and have been for a couple of days now.”

A spokesman for the Kurdish peshmerga force earlier stated that US planes had started bombing jihadist targets in two areas of northern Iraq.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said reports of US airstrikes were false.

“No such action taken,” he said on Twitter.

The Kurdish official said: “They just struck the bridge linking Mosul to Gwer. The bridge had been used by Daash to channel reinforcements and ammunition to Gwer.”

He added: “Their main supply line is now cut, they are isolated in Gwer and the F-16s are striking them there.” Hekmat did not elaborate on the targets in the Sinjar area, further west.

Gwer lies just 30 kilometres southeast of the main checkpoint leading to the autonomous Kurdistan region.

ISIS advances

ISIS fighters in Iraq.
ISIS fighters in Iraq.

A series of ISIS attacks in that area and further east in the Sinjar area near the Syrian border has displaced tens of thousands of civilians in recent days.

In the latest advance, ISIS or the “Islamic State” extended its control over northern Iraq and moved within striking distance of autonomous Kurdistan.

ISIS, which proclaimed a ‘caliphate’ stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Fallujah in Iraq on Sunday 29 Junes, moved into Qaraqosh and other towns overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish peshmerga troops, residents said.

In just the past five days, Islamic State fighters claim they seized a total of 17 cities, towns and targets in northern Iraq.

They have also seized large amounts of military hardware.

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