Obama Authorizes Air Strikes As Another 294 People Are Killed Across Iraq

Most of the 294 killed today were militants. At least 84 other were wounded. There were two suicide bombings in a Shi’ite neighborhood in Baghdad and another two bombings near a Shi’ite mosque in Kirkuk. Meanwhile, U.S. President Obama authorized humanitarian aid and airstrikes in Iraq.

Obama’s Speech:

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to the American people tonight to explain the two-prong operation about to take place in Iraq.

He first said U.S. forces could engage in "targeted airstrikes" should Islamic State militants move towards Arbil or any U.S. facilities elsewhere in Iraq. Americans already in Iraq will continue to advise their Iraqi and Kurdish counterparts.

Secondly, a humanitarian effort to help the Yazidi people will certainly continue, at the Iraqi government’s request. Obama called that situation a potential "genocide" and "violence on a horrific scale."

Foremost, though, what the president wants is "reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces." He believes only that can provide a lasting solution for all Iraqis. He also promised that Americans would not be "dragged into another war" in Iraq.

Politics:

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, denied reports that the United States has already bombed Iraq. Airdrops have begun, though.

A spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said some of the Yazidi people trapped near Sinjar have been rescued and supplies are in place to help them when they arrive at their next destination.

Turkey allowed about 150 Yazidis with passports cross the border today, but many more are waiting for permission. Turkey has already provided refuge to about one million Syrians. They also say they have airdropped supplies to the Yazidis on Sinjar Mountain. And, Turkish jets have been flying over the region to survey the situation.

Pope Francis called on world leaders to help Christians affected by the Islamic State.

Chevron and Exxon are pulling workers out of Kurdistan ahead of any potential takeover by the Islamic State.

Politicians were seen working late into the night to select Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s successor. He still insisted on his right to stand for the post. A former American official, Ali Khedery, explained that “Maliki knows if he steps down, virtually he is a dead man” due to the long list of enemies he has made during his years as premier.

Joseph Thomas, who is the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Kirkuk and Suleimaniyah, said residents left Qara Qosh, Tal Kief, Bartilla and Karamlesh to the militants.

Fighting:

In Baghdad, almost three-dozen people were killed in a two suicide bombings in Kadhimiya. In one of the bombings, at least 24 people were wounded.

A pair of bombs in Kirkuk killed 11 people and wounded 5o more. Many of the victims were refugees from Tal Afar.

Shelling in Falluja killed six civilians and wounded nine more.

Seventy militants were killed in Latifiya.

Airstrikes in Amerli left 60 militants dead.

Fifty militants were killed during airstrikes in Bashiqa.

In Saqlawiya, shelling left 45 militants dead.

Security forces killed seven militants in al-Sigar.

Tribesmen killed four gunmen in Iskandariya.

Two militants were killed and a third one was wounded in Sindeej.

Three militants were killed in Karama.

In Jurf al-Sakhar, clashes left dozens of militants dead.

Clashes between Peshmerga and militants took place in Makhmour.

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Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.