President Obama authorizes airstrikes in Iraq

By: ABC News
By: ABC News
President Barack Obama says he

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WASHINGTON -- President Obama said Thursday night he has authorized air strikes if necessary to protect American interests in Iraq.

If the terrorist group ISIS, which is taking over parts of Iraq reaches Erbil, the president said he will call in US air strikes to protect American interests. The US has an embassy and other staffers in the city. Obama says will not allow US to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq and combat troops will not return.

The US sent cargo planes to drop pallets of humanitarian aid and supplies to stranded Iraqi citizens threatened by the militant Islamic group ISIS, U.S. officials said today.

The airdrop mission has been completed, the president said in a statement from the White House.

The emergency effort is being deployed to help a group of 40,000 Yazidis, a group of ethnic Kurds, who fled villages in northern Iraq under threat from ISIS.

The Yazidis fled to the Sinjar Mountains, in a remote part of northern Iraq near the border of Syria, where they are stuck without food or water while ISIS forces are gathered at the base of the mountains.

ISIS has overtaken much of the northern part of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, over the past two months. They are simultaneously waging campaigns for territory in Syria and Lebanon in their quest to create a unified Islamic state encompassing territory from all three countries.

The Iraqi government has had little success battling ISIS.

Watch the President's speech below:

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