Obama on Iraq: "The United States can't just look away"
Saturday, August 09, 2014 - 01:08
President Barack Obama comments on decision to launch strikes against the Islamic State and a humanitarian mission in Iraq. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
In his weekly radio address, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday (August 9) that the U.S. could not stand by as an entire religious community in Iraq faces genocide.
"The terrorists that have taken over parts of Iraq have been especially brutal to religious minorities-rounding up families, executing men, enslaving women, and threatening the systematic destruction of an entire religious community, which would be genocide," Obama said, a day after U.S. warplanes bombed Islamist fighters marching on Iraq's Kurdish capital.
Islamic State fighters, who have beheaded and crucified captives in their drive to eradicate unbelievers, have advanced to within a half hour's drive of Arbil, capital of Iraq's Kurdish region and a hub for U.S. oil companies.
The U.S. air strikes were the first in Iraq since Obama pulled all troops out in 2011, arguing action was needed to halt the Islamist advance, protect Americans and safeguard hundreds of thousands of Christians and members of other religious minorities who have fled for their lives.
"The United States cannot and should not intervene every time there's a crisis in the world. But when there's a situation like the one on this mountain-when countless innocent people are facing a massacre, and when we have the ability to help prevent it-the United States can't just look away. That's not who we are. We're Americans. We act. We lead, and that's what we're going to do on that mountain," said Obama.
For the second straight night, the United States also dropped relief supplies to members of the ancient Yazidi sect, tens of thousands of whom are massed on a desert mountaintop seeking shelter from fighters who had ordered them to convert or die.
The advance of the Sunni militants, who also control a third of Syria and have fought this past week in Lebanon, has sounded alarm across the Middle East and threatens to unravel Iraq, a country divided between Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.
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