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(WASHINGTON) -- Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Tuesday that helping the Iraqis retake control of the Mosul dam fell squarely within President Obama’s authorization for the mission, and pushed back against the notion that the airstrikes are a sign of “mission creep.”
“Mission creep refers to the growth or expansion of the golden objectives of a military operation, that the golden objectives change, morph into something bigger than they were at the outset. It doesn’t talk about -- mission creep doesn’t refer to numbers of sorties, numbers of troops, numbers of anything. It doesn’t refer to timelines. It doesn’t even refer to intensity. It’s about the mission itself. Nothing has changed about the mission that -- and the missions that we’re conducting inside Iraq,” said Kirby.
“Airstrikes are authorized under two mission areas: humanitarian assistance and the protection of U.S. personnel and facilities. The airstrikes that we conducted in and around Mosul dam over the last 72 hours or so fit into both those categories,” he said.
Kirby would not get into specific intelligence, but said that the U.S. decided that ISIS controlling the largest dam in Iraq was not an acceptable risk.
“We believed that should the dam remain in control of [ISIS], whose intentions are obviously not perfectly clear and certainly not in the best interests of the people of Iraq, if that dam were to blow or they were to open and flood the gates, that it could have an effect as far south as Baghdad. That’s where we have people,” he said.
Kirby also had harsh words for ISIS, calling the group “barbaric” when asked about reports that members were executing children.
“The barbarism doesn’t seem to know any limits here, and while I can’t point to a specific child, we do have information that would lead us to believe that they have conducted atrocities, killed women, children, men alike,” he said. “If you don’t believe in their twisted view of reality and their extreme barbaric version of Islam, you appear to be fair game to them.”
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