by Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
8/15/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- President
Barack Obama has announced an end to the siege of Iraq's Mount Sinjar
where Iraqi Yezidis had fled to escape Sunni terrorists, and that U.S.
airdrops to those who were trapped there will likely end. But he said
airstrikes will continue to protect Americans in the country.
"Our military was able to successfully strike ISIL targets around the
mountains, which improved conditions for civilians to evacuate the
mountain safely," the president said in televised remarks from
Edgartown, Massachusetts where he is vacationing. "The situation on the
mountain has greatly improved, and Americans should be very proud of our
Obama said continued airdrops and evacuation operations are not
expected, and military personnel who assessed the situation on the
mountain likely will come home soon. However, he said the United States
will continue to work with other nations to provide humanitarian
assistance to other minority groups in northern Iraq when possible.
Obama said airdrops have delivered more than 114,000 meals and 35,000
gallons of fresh water to those on the mountain. The United Kingdom
helped in the effort, and other allies pledged their support, he added.
As commander in chief, the president added, he could not be prouder of
the military men and women who carried out the humanitarian operation
almost flawlessly. "I'm very grateful to them," he added. "And I know
that those who were trapped on that mountain are extraordinarily
But ISIL remains a threat to the people of Iraq, the president said, particularly for minorities.
"We obviously feel a great urge to provide some humanitarian relief to
the situation, and I've been very encouraged by the interest of our
international partners in helping on these kinds of efforts."
Air strikes to protect American people and facilities in Iraq will continue, he said.
"We have increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraqi and
Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines," Obama said. "Perhaps
most importantly, we are urging Iraqis to come together to turn the tide
against ISIL above all by seizing the enormous opportunity of forming a
new inclusive government under the leadership of Prime
Minister-designate [Haider al-Abadi]," he added.
The president said he spoke with Abadi a few days ago, and that Abadi
said Iraq needs an inclusive government that speaks to all people of
"He still has a challenging task in putting a government together, but
we are modestly hopeful that the Iraqi government situation is moving in
the right direction," Obama said.