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As U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq Begin, Will Military Intervention Escalate Growing Crisis?

The Pentagon has announced U.S. military aircraft carried out airstrikes in northern Iraq today targeting artillery used by the militant group Islamic State used against Kurdish forces defending the city of Erbil. The bombing came less than 12 hours after President Obama spoke on national television announcing he had authorized airstrikes in Iraq in an attempt to halt the sweeping advance by the Islamic State. Obama becomes the fourth U.S. president in a row to order military action in Iraq. The Islamic State has captured large swaths of northern Iraq and has advanced to a half-hour drive from the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil. Up to 40,000 people, many of them members of the Yazidi religious minority, remain trapped on the Sinjar Mountains near the border with Syria, surrounded by rebels and slowly dying of thirst. The United States has also begun dropping relief supplies. We speak to Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. She has written several books, including “Ending the Iraq War: A Primer.” One of her recent articles is “Don’t Go Back to Iraq!: Five Steps the U.S. Can Take in Iraq Without Going Back to War.”

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