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Obama 'determined' not to get ensnared in Iraq conflict

WASHINGTON D.C. (AA) – The United States does not want to get involved in a protracted conflict in Iraq, the White House has said as drones launching fresh air strikes on Islamic State militants.
“The president’s determined to ensure that the United States will not be dragged back into a prolonged military conflict there,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Friday.
But he added that Obama has not “laid out a specific end date” for U.S. air strikes. Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirmed a second round of aerial attacks on fighters from IS, formerly known as ISIL, in northern Iraq on Friday.
"Shortly after 10 a.m. EDT [15.00 GMT], remotely piloted aircraft struck a terrorist mortar position. When ISIL fighters returned to the site moments later, the terrorists were attacked again and successfully eliminated," Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
About an hour later, four F/A-18 Hornet jets struck a seven-vehicle militant convoy and another mortar position near Erbil, he added.
The attacks came after authorization by President Barack Obama on Thursday evening to protect U.S. personnel in Erbil and support Kurdish forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar, where thousands of Ezidi civilians have sought refuge from militants.
“Today America is coming to help,” Obama said during a televised late night speech.
Earnest said that the U.S. military is ready to assist an inclusive government that represents all of Iraq’s communities.
“It is, after all, in the clear national security interests of the United States for there to be a stable Iraqi government that can preside over a stable Iraq and a security force that has the necessary capability to address the security situation in that country,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters accompanying him on a trip to India on Friday that more than 60 of 72 aid packages had been successfully dropped to civilians sheltering from IS forces. Hagel added that militants would not be able to evade air strikes by hiding among the civilian population if they moved against the U.S. consulate in Erbil, the green zone in Baghdad, or the Ezidis on Mount Sinjar.
“It's pretty clear who they are. And they would be pretty identifiable where our air strikes could be effective,” he said.
More aid drops are possible if requested by the Iraqi government, he added.
Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington is working to supply Kurdish Peshmerga forces with additional military supplies to fight IS militants.
"The Kurdish forces have played a critical role in addressing this threat," she said. "We understand their need for additional arms and equipment, and are working to provide those as well so they are reinforced."

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