Powers: Obama Is 'Downplaying the Humanitarian Crisis' Occurring in Iraq
In remarks from Martha's Vineyard (watch below), President Obama declared that U.S. airstrikes have broken the siege around a mountain in northern Iraq.
"The situation on the mountain has greatly improved," Obama said. "We broke the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar. We helped vulnerable people reach safety," he said, adding that operations around Mt. Sinjar will be winding down.
But he said U.S. airstrikes will continue in Iraq if ISIS/ISIL terrorists threaten American interests. Here's more from FoxNews.com:
And he said the U.S. is working with partners to provide humanitarian aid to "those who are suffering in northern Iraq wherever we have capabilities."
He reiterated that this would not commit "combat troops on the ground," but, while green-lighting additional airstrikes, said the U.S. also has increased military assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
In committing the U.S. to staying engaged in the region, the president acknowledged what U.S. lawmakers and other allies have been saying for weeks, if not months.
"The situation remains dire for Iraqis subject to ISIL's terror throughout the country," Obama said.
The development comes one week after Obama first authorized airstrikes and aid drops to help the thousands of Yazidi refugees trapped on the mountain, after being driven out by Islamic State militants.
Obama said U.S. forces delivered more than 114,000 meals and 35,000 gallons of water. Together with airstrikes and efforts by international partners and Kurdish security forces, Obama said thousands of people already have been able to evacuate. Those still there, he said, continue to leave.
Officials said there were about 4,500 Yazidis left on the mountain, and that half were herders who want to stay.
Though it's not clear whether they are out of danger, Obama said he does not expect the U.S. to launch an evacuation operation -- as had been discussed earlier this week -- or to continue humanitarian aid drops on the mountain.
Reacting on Outnumbered, Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard, said he didn't hear any plan from the president on what will happen next in Iraq. He added that Obama simply summarized what had already happened.
Kirsten Powers expressed skepticism about how much the humanitarian situation has really improved in the past week in northern Iraq.
"I think that [humanitarian] crisis is actually quite great and I think he's downplaying it," said Powers.
Watch the Outnumbered response above, and the president's comments below.