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  • The President: Good morning.

  • Over the past two days, American pilots

  • and crews have served with courage and skill

  • in the skies over Iraq.

  • First, American forces have conducted targeted

  • airstrikes against terrorist forces outside

  • the city of Erbil to prevent them from

  • advancing on the city and to protect our American

  • diplomats and military personnel.

  • So far, these strikes have successfully destroyed

  • arms and equipment that ISIL terrorists

  • could have used against Erbil.

  • Meanwhile, Kurdish forces on the ground continue

  • to defend the city, and the United States

  • and the Iraqi government have stepped up our military

  • assistance to Kurdish forces

  • as they wage their fight.

  • Second, our humanitarian effort continues

  • to help the men, women and children stranded

  • on Mount Sinjar.

  • American forces have so far conducted two

  • successful airdrops -- delivering thousands

  • of meals and gallons of water to these desperate men,

  • women and children.

  • And American aircraft are positioned to strike ISIL

  • terrorists around the mountain to help forces

  • in Iraq break the siege and rescue those

  • who are trapped there.

  • Now, even as we deal with these immediate

  • situations, we continue to pursue a broader

  • strategy in Iraq.

  • We will protect our American citizens in Iraq,

  • whether they're diplomats, civilians or military.

  • If these terrorists threaten our facilities

  • or our personnel, we will take action

  • to protect our people.

  • We will continue to provide military

  • assistance and advice to the Iraqi government

  • and Kurdish forces as they battle these terrorists,

  • so that the terrorists cannot establish

  • a permanent safe haven.

  • We will continue to work with the international

  • community to deal with the growing

  • humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

  • Even as our attention is focused on preventing

  • an act of genocide and helping the men

  • and women and children on the mountain,

  • countless Iraqis have been driven or fled from their homes,

  • including many Christians.

  • This morning, I spoke with Prime Minister Cameron

  • of the United Kingdom and President Hollande

  • of France.

  • I'm pleased that both leaders expressed their

  • strong support for our actions and have agreed

  • to join us in providing humanitarian assistance

  • to Iraqi civilians who are suffering so much.

  • Once again, America is proud to act alongside

  • our closest friends and allies.

  • More broadly, the United Nations in Iraq is working

  • urgently to help respond to the needs

  • of those Iraqis fleeing from areas under threat.

  • The U.N. Security

  • Council has called

  • on the international community to do everything

  • it can to provide food, water and shelter.

  • And in my calls with allies and partners around

  • the world, I'll continue to urge them to join

  • us in this humanitarian effort.

  • Finally, we continue to call on Iraqis to come

  • together and form the inclusive government

  • that Iraq needs right now.

  • Vice President Biden has been speaking

  • to Iraqi leaders, and our team in Baghdad

  • is in close touch with the Iraqi government.

  • All Iraqi communities are ultimately threatened

  • by these barbaric terrorists and all Iraqi

  • communities need to unite to defend their country.

  • Just as we are focused on the situation

  • in the north affecting Kurds and Iraqi minorities,

  • Sunnis and Shia in different parts of Iraq

  • have suffered mightily at the hands of ISIL.

  • Once an inclusive government is in place,

  • I'm confident it will be easier to mobilize

  • all Iraqis against ISIL, and to mobilize

  • greater support from our friends and allies.

  • Ultimately, only Iraqis can ensure

  • the security and stability of Iraq.

  • The United States can't do it for them,

  • but we can and will be partners in that effort.

  • One final thing -- as we go forward,

  • we'll continue to consult with Congress and coordinate closely

  • with our allies and partners.

  • And as Americans, we will continue to show

  • gratitude to our men and women in uniform

  • who are conducting our operations there.

  • When called, they were ready --

  • as they always are.

  • When given their mission, they've performed

  • with distinction -- as they always do.

  • And when we see them serving

  • with such honor and compassion, defending our fellow citizens

  • and saving the lives of people they've never

  • met, it makes us proud to be Americans --

  • as we always will be.

  • So with that, let me take a couple questions.

  • The Press: Mr. President, for how long

  • a period of time do you see these airstrikes continuing for?

  • And is your goal there to contain ISIS

  • or to destroy it?

  • The President: I'm not going to give a particular

  • timetable, because as I've said

  • from the start, wherever and whenever U.S.

  • personnel and facilities are threatened,

  • it's my obligation, my responsibility

  • as Commander-in-Chief, to make sure

  • that they are protected.

  • And we're not moving our embassy anytime soon.

  • We're not moving our consulate anytime soon.

  • And that means that, given the challenging security

  • environment, we're going to maintain

  • vigilance and ensure that our people are safe.

  • Our initial goal is to not only make sure

  • Americans are protected, but also to deal

  • with this humanitarian situation in Sinjar.

  • We feel confident that we can prevent ISIL

  • from going up a mountain and slaughtering

  • the people who are there.

  • But the next step, which is going

  • to be complicated logistically, is how do we give safe passage

  • for people down from the mountain, and where

  • can we ultimately relocate them so that they are safe.

  • That's the kind of coordination that

  • we need to do internationally.

  • I was very pleased to get the cooperation

  • of both Prime Minister Cameron and President Hollande

  • in addressing some of the immediate needs

  • in terms of airdrops and some of the assets

  • and logistical support that they're providing.

  • But there's a broader set of questions

  • that our experts now are engaged in with the United Nations

  • and our allies and partners,

  • and that is how do we potentially create a safe

  • corridor or some other mechanism so that these people can move.

  • That may take some time -- because there are varying

  • estimates of how many people are up there,

  • but they're in the thousands, and moving them

  • is not simple in this kind of security environment.

  • Just to give people a sense, though,

  • of a timetable -- that the most important timetable

  • that I'm focused on right now is the Iraqi

  • government getting formed and finalized.

  • Because in the absence of an Iraqi government,

  • it is very hard to get a unified effort

  • by Iraqis against ISIL.

  • We can conduct airstrikes, but ultimately there's

  • not going to be an American military solution

  • to this problem.

  • There's going to have to be an Iraqi solution that

  • America and other countries and allies support.

  • And that can't happen effectively until you have

  • a legitimate Iraqi government.

  • So right now we have a President, we have

  • a speaker.

  • What we don't yet have is a prime minister

  • and a cabinet that is formed that can go ahead

  • and move forward, and then start reaching

  • out to all the various groups and factions inside of Iraq,

  • and can give confidence to populations

  • in the Sunni areas that ISIL is not the only game in town.

  • It also then allows us to take those Iraqi

  • security forces that are able and functional,

  • and they understand who they're reporting

  • to and what they're fighting for, and what the chain

  • of command is.

  • And it provides a structure in which better