President Obama: Airstrikes in Iraq Taking Toll on ISIS

By CBS News

Published 08/09 2014 10:21AM

Updated 08/09 2014 10:26AM

(CBS News)-- A day after American warplanes began launching airstrikes at Islamist militants in Iraq, President Obama said Saturday that those strikes "successfully destroyed arms and equipment" used by fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The president also said American planes had conducted "two successful airdrops" to religious minorities stranded on a mountain in Northern Iraq. He announced that the humanitarian assistance would continue and said that the leaders of Great Britain and France had agreed to join that effort.

"Even as we deal with these immediate situations, we will continue to pursue a broader strategy in Iraq," he said, urging Iraq's leaders to seek an inclusive government. "Ultimately only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq."

Mr. Obama made the remarks from the South Lawn of the White House ahead of his departure for Martha's Vineyard for a vacation with his family.

The president announced his authorization of the strikes Thursday, and the first bombs began dropping Friday morning, striking a convoy of ISIS militants that was advancing on Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region and previously a beacon of stability in the otherwise-chaotic country.

The president also addressed the military operation in Iraq in his weekly address Saturday, saying he'll do "whatever is needed" to protect American diplomatic personnel in the country.

He cited the humanitarian crisis on Sinjar Mountain, where an estimated 15,000 Yazidis - a religious minority with ties to Zoroastrianism - were trapped by ISIS fighters, unable to leave the mountain and rapidly running out of food and water.

"The food and water we airdropped will help them survive," the president said. "I've also approved targeted American airstrikes to help Iraqi forces break the siege and rescue these families."

But even as he stressed the necessity of acting to prevent a massacre, Mr. Obama reiterated that the United States will not be sending ground troops back into Iraq.

"As commander-in-chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," he said, "because there's no American military solution to the larger crisis there."

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