Obama notifies Congress of weekend Iraq strikes


President Obama sent a letter to Congress on Monday notifying them that over the weekend he authorized U.S. military airstrikes and humanitarian assistance to break the monthlong siege of the town of Amirli in northern Iraq.

The letter, sent under the War Powers Act, is the third missive the president has delivered to Capitol Hill since he approved air operations in Iraq on Aug. 7.

“These additional operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli,” Obama wrote.

The letter comes two days after the U.S. conducted airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets near the town and airdropped humanitarian aid to its thousands of Shiite Turkmen, an ethnic minority within Iraq, who had been cut off from food and water for nearly two months.

“This operation is consistent with the military missions we have outlined to date in Iraq — to protect U.S. personnel and facilities and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

However, the latest letter marks the latest interpretation of the U.S. mission in Iraq by the Obama administration.

The president’s first letter to Congress said the airstrikes were intended to help protect U.S. officials in the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil and to help Yazidi civilians, a religious minority threatened by ISIS.
A second letter informed lawmakers that airstrikes were intended to help Iraqi security forces recapture the country’s biggest dam in Mosul.
U.S. Central Command has launched 123 airstrikes in Iraq since operations began Aug. 8.