- Associated Press - Saturday, August 9, 2014

US airlifts more aid to stranded Iraqis as airstrikes help Kurds combat militant advance

KHAZER CAMP, Iraq (AP) - President Barack Obama justified the U.S. military’s return to fighting in Iraq Saturday by saying America must act now to prevent genocide, protect its diplomats and provide humanitarian aid to refugees trapped by Islamic State militants on a mountain ridge near the Syrian border.

“This is going to be a long-term project” that won’t end and can’t succeed unless Iraqis form an inclusive government in Baghdad capable of keeping the country from breaking apart, Obama said at the White House.

U.S. planes and drones launched four airstrikes on Islamic State forces Saturday as they fired indiscriminately on Yazidi civilians taking shelter in the Sinjar mountains, U.S. Central Command said. The strikes, which were spread out during the day, destroyed armored carriers and a truck, according to the Central Command statement. It was the third round of airstrikes against Islamic State forces by the U.S. military since they were authorized by Obama on Thursday.

The military support also has been helping clear the way for aid flights to drop food and water to thousands of starving refugees in the Sinjar area. Central Command announced Saturday night that the military had made the third such drop, delivering another 72 bundles of supplies, including more than 3,800 gallons of water and more than 16,000 meals.

But the help comes too late for many of the religious minorities targeted for elimination by the Islamic State group, which swept past U.S.-trained and equipped Iraqi government forces in recent weeks and now controls much of Iraq.

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Obama offers no time limit on renewed US military involvement in Iraq, awaits new government

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama on Saturday refused to give a time limit on America’s renewed military involvement in Iraq, saying he doesn’t think “we are going to solve this problem in weeks” as the country struggles to form a new government.

“I think this is going to take some time,” he said at the White House before departing for a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.

Obama warned Americans that the new campaign to bring security in Iraq requires military and political changes and “is going to be a long-term project.”

The president said Iraqi security forces need to revamp to effectively mount an offensive, which requires a government in Baghdad that the Iraqi military and people have confidence in. Obama said Iraq needs a prime minister - an indication that suggests he’s written off the legitimacy of the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki.

Obama said he will not close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or the consulate in Irbil, which means American troops and diplomats will remain on the ground. He said he is obligated as commander in chief to protect U.S. personnel wherever and whenever they are threatened.

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