Obama says militant siege broken – but Iraq mission not over yet

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from FoxNews,

President Obama announced Thursday that U.S.-led airstrikes have broken the siege by Islamic militants against religious minorities who were trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq — but made clear the U.S. mission in the region is not over yet.

The president, in brief remarks from Martha’s Vineyard where his family is on vacation, said he expects the specific operation at Mount Sinjar to wind down. He said military planners will be leaving in the coming days, aid drops will stop and a U.S.-led evacuation is likely no longer needed.

“The situation on the mountain has greatly improved,” Obama said. “We broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar. We helped vulnerable people reach safety.”

But Obama said U.S. involvement will not come to an end, as militants with the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, or ISIL — continue to brutalize the civilian population in the region, especially minorities like Iraqi Christians and Yazidis.

Obama said “we will continue airstrikes” where necessary to protect American personnel and facilities in Iraq.

And he said the U.S. is working with partners to provide humanitarian aid to “those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities.”

He reiterated that this would not commit “combat troops on the ground,” but, while green-lighting additional airstrikes, said the U.S. also has increased military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

In committing the U.S. to staying engaged in the region, the president acknowledged what U.S. lawmakers and other allies have been saying for weeks, if not months.

“The situation remains dire for Iraqis subject to ISIL’s terror throughout the country,” Obama said.

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