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Humanitarian Operations, Airstrikes Will Continue in Iraq

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2014 – Air operations in Iraq continue in support of President Barack Obama’s directives to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces in their fight with terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, provide humanitarian assistance to Iraqi civilians and protect U.S. personnel and facilities, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

Aircraft from U.S. Central Command, Australia, France and the United Kingdom delivered humanitarian aid over the weekend to thousands of Shia Turkomen living in the Iraqi village of Amirli, Kirby said at a Pentagon news conference. The village was besieged by ISIL forces two months ago and has been cut off from food, water and medical supplies since then.

“In conjunction with this airdrop, U.S. aircraft conducted coordinated airstrikes against nearby ISIL terrorists in order to support this humanitarian assistance operation and thereby helped facilitate the actual delivery of the aid,” Kirby said.

The Defense Department is monitoring the situation in Amirli, he said, noting that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are in control of the township and are providing for the security needs of the citizens there.

“So far, we believe the mission has succeeded, … because we're able to get needed provisions to the people there,” the press secretary said. “And we know that it got into the right hands and that they've been able to sustain themselves with the food and water that's been provided.”

Further missions remain a possibility, Kirby added.

“One of our core military objectives in Iraq is to join with international partners to address humanitarian crises, and when and where we have the ability to do that, we're going to do it,” he said.

U.S. forces also conducted additional airstrikes over the weekend against ISIL terrorists in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam, Kirby said. The strikes serve two purposes: to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe if the dam were to be breached and to protect U.S. personnel and facilities, he explained.

Since the dam was recaptured by Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, ISIL forces have continued to try to retake the dam, the press secretary said. “And so as long as ISIL continues to threaten the facility, we'll continue to strike them,” Kirby added.

Ultimately, however, the solution in Iraq will not be a military one, he said. “We're not the answer to ISIL inside Iraq -- not the U.S. military,” the admiral said. “The answer is the ideology gets rejected because there's good governance, responsive government, inclusive government in Iraq and, frankly, in Syria, as well.”

(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)

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