President Authorizes Airstrikes in Iraq

President Barack Obama authorized "targeted airstrikes" to protect U.S. interests in Iraq and airdrops of meals and water to refugees trapped on a mountaintop in northwest Iraq.

In a nationally televised address, Obama said Thursday night that he had long warned the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, not to threaten the strategic city of Erbil. With ISIS fighters nearing Erbil on Thursday, Obama said he had approved "targeted strikes against [ISIS] convoys should they approach the city."

"These innocent families are faced with a choice — descend and be slaughtered or stay and slowly die of hunger." Obama said, adding that he had also authorized targeted airstrikes to help break ISIS' siege trapping about 40,000 Christians and members of a religious sect called the Yazidi on Mount Sinjar near Mosul. "We can act responsibly to prevent an act of genocide."

"Today, America is coming to help," Obama said — while also stressing that U.S. troops wouldn't be returning to Iraq.

Read more from NBC News.

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