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White House announces escalation of air strikes against ISIS in Iraq

Spencer Platt

In a statement attributed to National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, the White House today announced that the US bombing campaign against ISIS in Iraq will expand beyond support of Kurdish forces to also include delivering assistance to the Iraqi army. Specifically, American air power is going "to support Iraqi Security Force operations to retake and establish control over the Mosul Dam," an important infrastructure target that's near the current front lines. In a letter to the congressional leadership, the White House states that any failure of the dam "could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger US personnel and facilities, including the US Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace."

Read the full statement:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2014

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the President's Authorization of Operations in Iraq

Today, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (WPR), the President transmitted to the Congress a report notifying the Congress that he had authorized U.S. Armed Forces to conduct targeted airstrikes in Iraq to support Iraqi Security Force operations to retake and establish control over the Mosul Dam, a critical infrastructure site, as part of their ongoing campaign against ISIL.

This mission is consistent with President Obama's directive that the U.S. military protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq, since the failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, threaten U.S. personnel and facilities — including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad — and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace.

These operations are limited in their nature, duration, and scope and are being undertaken in coordination with and at the request of the Government of Iraq.

The Administration will continue to consult with the Congress on the way forward in Iraq and our efforts against ISIL, and we will continue to provide appropriate reports to the Congress consistent with the War Powers Resolution.