Obama authorizes airstrikes in Iraq

President Barack Obama says he has authorized the U.S. military to launch targeted airstrikes if Islamic militants advance toward American personnel in northern Iraq.

Protesters ask for help for Yazidi people who

Protesters ask for help for Yazidi people who are stranded by violence in northern Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, across from the White House in Washington. The Obama administration is weighing an urgent response to help trapped religious minorities in Iraq, with one option being delivery of humanitarian aid. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (Credit: AP)

WASHINGTON - (AP) -- President Barack Obama says he has authorized the U.S. military to launch targeted airstrikes if Islamic militants advance toward American personnel in northern Iraq. He also has announced that the military carried out airdrops of humanitarian aid Thursday to Iraqi religious minorities threatened by the extremists.

"Today America is coming to help," he said in a late night statement from the White House.

The announcements marked the deepest American engagement in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew in late 2011 after nearly a decade of war.

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