President Obama has authorized the U.S. military to execute targeted airstrikes in Iraq.
The President takes no decision more seriously than the use of military force. So it's worth taking a few minutes to make sure you understand exactly what is happening in Iraq right now, who is involved, and why we are taking action. Here are a few answers to some key questions Americans may be asking:
1. What exactly did the President do?
On August 7, 2014, President Obama authorized two operations in the northern region of Iraq. First, he authorized the military to use limited airstrikes to protect American diplomatic and military personnel serving in the city of Erbil. Second, the United States is delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of Yezidis, Iraqi civilians, who have been forced to flee their homes and are now stranded on a mountainside — facing near-certain death without our assistance.
2. Why are airstrikes needed now?
Terrorist forces known as ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) have been advancing across Iraq. ISIL had moved toward the city of Erbil, where many American diplomats and military advisors are currently serving. By August 7, ISIL forces had taken positions only minutes from Erbil.
In order to stop ISIL’s advance from threatening our people and facilities, the President ordered targeted airstrikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward Erbil.