Today, President Barack Obama delivered a statement on the latest developments in Iraq. The President said that the American operation in Iraq has effectively protected our personnel in Erbil by stopping the terrorist group ISIL from advancing on the city of Erbil, and by helping Iraqi forces to recapture the largest dam in Iraq. The President said:
"The Mosul Dam fell under terrorist control earlier this month and is directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq. If that dam was breached, it could have proven catastrophic, with floods that would have threatened the lives of thousands of civilians and endangered our embassy compound in Baghdad. Iraqi and Kurdish forces took the lead on the ground and performed with courage and determination. So this operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together in taking the fight to ISIL. If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States of America."
President Obama also noted that the United States is building an international coalition to address the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq. The President said, "Even as we've worked to help many thousands of Yazidis escape the siege of Mount Sinjar, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced by ISIL’s violence and many more are still at risk. Going forward, the United States will work with the Iraqi government, as well as partners like the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy and Australia, to get food and water to people in need and to bring long-term relief to people who have been driven from their homes."
The long-term strategy against ISIL requires an inclusive Iraqi government that can unite all of Iraq’s communities against ISIL’s terrorism. The President outlined the "historic progress" Iraq has made toward this goal and the work that remains:
"Over the next few weeks, Dr. Abadi needs to complete the work of forming a new, broad-based, inclusive Iraqi government, one that develops a national program to address the interests of all Iraqis. Without that progress, extremists like ISIL can continue to prey upon Iraq’s divisions. With that new government in place, Iraqis will be able to unite the country against the threat from ISIL, and they will be able to look forward to increased support not just from the United States but from other countries in the region and around the world."
The President continued, "There should be no doubt that the United States military will continue to carry out the limited missions that I've authorized -- protecting our personnel and facilities in Iraq in both Erbil and Baghdad, and providing humanitarian support, as we did on Mount Sinjar."
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