President Barack Obama says he's authorized the U.S. military to carry out airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic militants if they advance toward the critical city of Irbil. The U.S. has a consulate and a military operations centre there.
Obama, speaking from the White House, says the U.S. military has already started dropping food, water and supplies to thousands members of a religious minority trapped on a mountain top by the Sunni extremist group Islamic State.
Obama said the U.S. can't turn a blind eye to potential genocide. But he also said that the U.S. will not send combat forces into Iraq.