US President Barack Obama said he has authorized “targeted airstrikes” in Iraq to protect American personnel and help Iraqi forces, CNN reported.
“We do whatever is necessary to protect our people,” Obama said. “We support our allies when they’re in danger.”
A key concern for US officials are the dozens of American consular staff and military advisers working with the Iraqi military in Irbil, the largest city in the country’s Kurdish region.
Obama said he had directed the military to take targeted strikes against Islamist militants “should they move towards the city”.
Rapid developments on the ground, where a humanitarian crisis is emerging with minority groups facing possible slaughter by Sunni Muslim extremists, have set the stage for an increasingly dire situation.
Thousands of families from the Yazidi minority are reportedly trapped in the mountains without food, water or medical care after fleeing the rampaging fighters of the Islamic State, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
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