Obama Sets 3 Conditions for U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq, ‘If Necessary’

by PATRICK GOODENOUGH August 8, 2014

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President Obama on Thursday night specified three distinct sets of circumstances that - "if necessary" - would trigger U.S. airstrikes in Iraq in the coming days:

-- if Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) advance towards Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region, location of a U.S. Consulate and one of two joint operations centers where U.S. military advisors are currently based;

-- if ISIS forces threaten U.S. forces or personnel anywhere in Iraq, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil; and

-- "if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there."

The specificity in the president's late-night announcement from the White House was striking because there was no reference to the possibility of strikes should ISIS continue to advance elsewhere in Iraq, for instance - other than Erbil or the proximity of the embassy in Baghdad - and not threaten Americans.

The same message came from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: "The U.S. military will also remain ready to conduct targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq fighting to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect Iraqi civilians trapped there," he said in a statement.

"In addition, we are prepared to conduct airstrikes to protect American personnel against ISIL terrorist convoys should they approach Erbil."

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Patrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by CNSNews.com's roster of international stringers.


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