While the U.S. military has made "important progress" in Iraq, the mission is not over. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), still "poses a threat to all Iraqis and to the entire region," President Barack Obama said Monday. "The work is not yet done."
The U.S. began targeting convoys from ISIS (also known as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) two weeks ago in an attempt to push back the Sunni militant group from advancing on Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan where hundreds of American diplomats are stationed. The U.S. is also working to help the Yazidi population escape ISIS persecution in the Sinjar region.
Obama said in a press conference that the U.S. military in Iraq had successfully pushed back ISIS from Erbil and that the operation was protecting U.S. personnel still stationed in the country. He said the U.S. had supported the Iraqi and Kurdish militaries in their fight to take back the Mosul dam. Recapturing the dam was "directly tied to our objective to protecting Americans in Erbil," he said.
"In all, we destroyed over 90 targets including a range of vehicles, equipment and fighting positions,"Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
But Obama did not set an end date for the operation in Iraq. He said the U.S. would pursue a long-term strategy in the country to "turn the tide against ISIL by supporting the Iraqi government." That support, he said, would come in the form of humanitarian assistance to help the displaced and by supporting a new Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Obama said U.S. support would continue only if the Iraqi government was inclusive and addressed the interests of all Iraqis.