On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced he authorized limited airstrikes on the Islamic State a group of Islamic militants in Iraq. The U.S. wants to stop the militants from taking over Erbil, the Kurdish capital. However, it returns the U.S. to its most significant role in the Iraq conflict since 2011.
On Thursday night, Obama spoke from the White House saying that military aircraft from the U.S. dropped food and water to trapped Iraqis on a mountain range in northern Iraq. The people had fled the militant group, who has threatened them with what the President referred to as genocide.
The president was adamant that the military operations were not a full-scale re-engagement inside Iraq. However, the quick overpowering advances made by the Islamic State that Obama described as barbaric, has them within a drive of 30 minutes to Erbil.
That raises immediate danger for American military advisers, diplomats and other citizens based there.
Obama said as the commander and chief he would not allow the U.S. to enter another Iraq war. He built part of his run for the presidency on the opposition to the Iraq war.
In addition to making sure Americans are protected in Erbil as well as Baghdad, President Obama said he authorized the airstrikes, if necessary to break up the Mount Sinjar siege where thousands of Iraqis from a minority religious group that are closely allied with the Kurds have taken refuge.
F-18 jet fighters escorted a C-130 and C-17 plane to the location of the trapped people in the mountains.
The aircraft dropped 8,000 meals and 5,300 gallons of water for drinking.
A senior White House official said the humanitarian effort was continuing as needed and expected there would be additional airdrops.
The U.S. has worked with Kurdish and Iraqi officials to help coordinate responses to the advances made by the militants. An administration official said that cooperation included Iraqi airstrikes against the militant targets in northern Iraq.