U.S. senators call for war vote over Iraq
President Obama announced Thursday that the airstrikes in Iraq have been successful in dispersing members of the Islamic State (IS), but warned that further attacks will continue as necessary.
Continued military action in Iraq has some senators urging the President to ask Congress to declare war on the Middle Eastern country.
At least 15 airstrikes have been carried out against the IS – formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – in northern Iraq.
California Rep. John Garamendi said on Tuesday that the President has a "responsibility of going to the American people and specifically Congress and laying out the reasons for past involvement and any future involvement."
He also warned that "if you're sitting under the bomb that's coming down, you think it's an act of war."
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine agreed.
"Constitutionally, he should come forward with a plan to Congress and we vote for it or against it," Paul said. "I have an open mind as to exactly what we do."
President Obama updated the American people on his agenda in a Thursday news conference.
"We continue to make progress in carrying out our targeted military operations in Iraq," he told reporters. "Last week I authorised two limited missions: protecting our people and facilities inside of Iraq, and a humanitarian operation to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians stranded on a mountain."
The Yazidi – a religious minority in Iraq – were forced to flee into the mountains after IS forces destroyed their homes and slaughtered villagers. Hundreds of Yazidi women have also been taken captive by the terrorists.
"We broke the ISIL siege of Mt. Sinjar, we helped vulnerable people reach safety, and we helped save many innocent lives," Obama continued.
"Because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be additional operations to evacuate people off the mountain, and it's unlikely that we're going to need to continue humanitarian airdrops on the mountain. The majority of military personnel who conducted the assessment will be leaving Iraq in the coming days."
The success of the airstrikes does not mean a complete withdrawal of U.S. action in Iraq, however. The President said that while no troops will be deployed on the ground, further air attacks will continue.
"The situation remains dire for Iraqis subject to ISIL's terror throughout the country," he said. "This includes minorities like the Yazidis, and Iraqi Christians. It also includes many Sunnis, Shi'a, and Kurds.
"We will continue airstrikes to protect our people and facilities in Iraq, we have increased the delivery of military assistance to Iraq and Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the front lines, and, perhaps most importantly, we are encouraging Iraqis to come together to turn the tide against ISIL, above all, by seizing this opportunity of forming a new, inclusive government under the leadership of Prime Minister Designate [Haider] al-Ibadi."