Obama Authorizes Airstrikes Against ISIL in Iraq

President Barack Obama has authorized airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq to protect U.S. personnel in Erbil and to shield about 40,000 people trapped on Sinjar Mountain from genocide. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been on the march and has traveled close to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq. “Today, America is coming to help,” Obama said. “The United States of America cannot turn a blind eye” to the prospect of genocide on Sinjar Mountain, he said. “We must act and act now.” But he insisted that combat troops will not be returning to the battlefield. Obama said that he consulted with Congress on his actions and will continue to do so. The House recently voted overwhelmingly to ask the president to come to Congress before authorizing new combat in Iraq, but for now, Obama believes he has authority to attack on his own. Earlier Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted that he had cited a humanitarian crisis for the intervention in Libya, which was undertaken without congressional authorization. Obama also Thursday night called on the Iraqis to finish forming a new, inclusive government and said that when they do, the United States would help them push back against ISIL. Related stories: Obama Prepared for Iraq Action Without Congress Obama not Asking Congress' Permission on Iraq Amendments Opposing Iraq War Could Put House Democrats in Tough Spot Obama's Democrats Wary of Military Action in Iraq Obama Could Bomb Iraq Without Congress Because War Authorization Act Never Expired Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.