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Obama Says U.S. Action In Iraq 'Right Thing To Do,' Won't 'Drag' U.S. Into New War

A U.S. Navy handout photo obtained on August 8 shows sailors directing aircraft as an F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the Tomcatters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 takes off from the flight deck of the "USS George H.W. Bush" after President Barack Obama authorized air strikes against Islamist militants in Iraq and humanitarian aid airdrops.

President Barack Obama has announced fresh air strikes by U.S. forces on positions of the Islamic State in northern Iraq, adding that such attacks will continue in order to protect U.S. personnel in the area and to protect refugees who have fled to the Sinjar Mountain region to avoid the fighting.

He added that there was no timetable for when such strikes would cease.

Obama said the attacks would continue as long as there was a threat to U.S. personnel in Iraq and added the United States has an embassy and a consulate in Iraq and Washington has no plans to move either of those representative missions.

He also said the leaders of Britain and France have agreed to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees in northern Iraq.

The French president's office later said Paris will begin delivery of first aid equipment to Iraq "in the coming hours."

And in a phone call, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed on the need to boost the Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the Islamist militants, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

Earlier on August 9, Obama had defended the operations in Iraq as "the right thing to do" as American forces conducted more aid drops to thousands of Iraqis hiding in mountains from Islamist militants.

In his recorded weekly address, the U.S. president vowed that he would not allow America "to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq" and that "combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq."

However, Obama said, the United States will "help prevent these terrorists from having a permanent safe haven from which to attack America" and will continue to do that "if necessary."

He added that "countless innocent people are facing a massacre, and when we have the ability to help prevent it."

In his prerecorded address, Obama also reiterated his call for reconciliation between Iraq's communities "so the people of Iraq have the opportunity for a better future."

Obama on August 7 authorized air strikes on Iraq to protect U.S. military and diplomatic personnel in Irbil and prevent "a potential act of genocide" against religious minorities.

The Pentagon said in a statement the second air drop, on August 9, involved two cargo planes that together dispersed more than 28,000 U.S. military rations and some 5,500 liters of drinking water.

The aid was dropped into the mountains around Sinjar, where up to 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious sect have fled an IS offensive.

EXPLAINER: The Yazidi Minority In Iraq

The Pentagon earlier said a second round of air strikes, on August 8, included a drone strike on a mortar position and an attack by four jets on an IS convoy and mortar position near the city of Irbil.

The first two rounds of attacks took place near the city of Irbil.

The Pentagon said two warplanes dropped laser-guided bombs on a mortar position in the second air strike.

On August 7, the IS group said it had seized 17 Iraqi cities, towns and targets -- including Iraq's largest dam and a military base -- over the previous five days, including Qaraqoush, the largest Christian town in Iraq.

Reports say there are an estimated 3,000 Christian refugees in Irbil.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, BBC, and AP
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