Iraqi security forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Sunday broke
the two-month siege of Amerli and entered the northern town after
the U.S. military carried out air strikes on militant positions and
delivered emergency supplies to residents there.
Obama said in a letter to congressional leaders he was notifying
Congress of his decision under the long-standing War Powers
Resolution, which gives presidents authorization for temporary
military action. The operation was launched on Saturday.
Obama chose to broaden the U.S. military role in Iraq amid an
international outcry over the threat to the town’s mostly ethnic
Turkmen population from Sunni militants.
He said “targeted” air strikes had been needed to deliver
humanitarian assistance there and that the operations would be
“limited in their scope and duration” as required by the situation
on the ground.
When Obama ordered the first air strikes and airdrops in Iraq in
early August, he justified the military operation in part to prevent
a humanitarian catastrophe for thousands of ethnic Yazidis trapped
by Islamic State militants on Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq.
In mid-August, he declared that the militant siege there had been
Obama has faced criticism from lawmakers from both parties for what
many see as indecisiveness in confronting Islamic State, which has
taken over swathes of Iraq and Syria, and for not consulting them
more on the issue. Republicans seized on Obama's comment on Thursday
that "we don't have a strategy yet" for dealing with Islamic State.
[to top of second column]
The White House has insisted that Obama must deliberate carefully
before making final decisions on whether to expand U.S. air strikes
into Syria, where he has avoided military intervention during three
years of civil war.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden
described the aim of the Amerli operation as “consistent with the
military missions we have outlined to date in Iraq – to protect U.S.
personnel and facilities and to address the humanitarian situation
on the ground.”
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Alina Selyukh Editing by W Simon
and Cynthia Osterman)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.