Special Report: Obama Warns of 'Long Term Project' in Iraq

President Obama calls mission in Iraq a "long-term project" offering no time limit on military action.
5:08 | 08/09/14

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Transcript for Special Report: Obama Warns of 'Long Term Project' in Iraq
Good afternoon I'm Byron Pitts and ABC news headquarters in New York but the special report on American military action in Iraq. The US and those airstrikes against the Islamic militants pounding -- fighters and destroying mortars and artillery. Overnight the Pentagon released this new video of an air strike in the north F eighteen fighter jets hitting those targets. And humanitarian effort overnight to save those thousands of refugees this cargo plane filled with water food and other supplies being dropped on that mountain -- This infrared video shows the actual air drop conducted under the cover of darkness because the planes have to -- low and slow to complete the mission. President Obama says the US cannot look away from this crisis updating the nation today from the White House south law. So further strikes have successfully destroyed arms and equipment that Beisel terrorists could have used against -- be. Meanwhile Kurdish forces on the ground continued defend the city and the United States and the Iraqi Government. Have stepped up our military assistance to Kurdish forces as they wage their fight and American aircraft are positioned to strike -- terrorists around the mountain. To help forces in Iraq break the siege and rescue. Those were trapped there. ABC's senior Washington correspondent Jeff -- -- is in Washington and joins us now with the latest Jeff what else the president say about the air strikes. Well Byron the president say gave a brief overview of the two pronged assessment here of the airstrikes one he's saying that the military air strikes really. Have. Stop these militants in their tracks they've destroyed equipment they destroy them from -- -- prevented them from moving any farther and then. The second component of this is the humanitarian food drop the president said that that. Is that is -- accessible one of the reasons that this timeline is is a bit uncertain here it's because. Of those -- Iraqi refugees who were trapped on the mountain unable to get out he says that the we need to find a way to provide safe passage for them so that as one of the reasons that -- there -- no timetable given today. In terms of how long this mission will take I seen Jeff President Obama has said there will not be any US troops on the ground but didn't mention the timeline how long -- this mission go -- Mean that was one of the key takeaways from the president's speech that there will not be grounds for some course that is everyone's biggest question here. Is there is this going to be a -- -- centrally. Of the Iraq War the invasion and in a 2003 and the president said it is not so there will not be grain contracts that the president said it without a doubt this is going to go on in. For a long time he called it a long term project. So administration officials are really saying the president was trying to brace. The public for what could be weeks or months. Of a military campaign sort of bit by bit it was very clear here no timetable that this is going to take quite -- while. This apart was the president's effort to explain the nation what what are the objectives and you make that clear today. -- in the objectives are really on behalf of the Iraqi Government the president said again and again the US is willing to be a partner in this. US is willing to work alongside the government but it really is their responsibility. To start trying to rebuild. There a country on their -- so that is the key objective here. It's really first of all the humanitarian objective but the military objective is to be a partner with Iraq but not. Supplement there. Fighting entirely he says we cannot be the Iraqi air force -- certainly meant it. And Jeff what more questions the president pushed back on criticism that his decision to remove troops in 2011. Let's -- this crisis what's -- the political fallout. Byron he pushed back on this so forcefully. He called today a bogus argument he says that it is the Iraqi Government said they did not sign a joint forces agreement that would have allowed more US troops to -- stay there but. The Republican criticism in the other criticism is already fierce on this they believe the President Obama. Was doing a political objective back in. In 2011 when he said all troops would be out. At the end of that year of course right when he was a beginning his reelection campaign. Of course there's no appetite and either party for spreading this this engagement out of military fighting in Iraq but he said he. He pushed back in the strongest terms we've really heard in a long time. Saying that this argument that he is responsible for this simply is -- true. He of course put it. On the hands of the Iraqi Government -- as the president is vacationing in Martha's Vineyard here beginning now this afternoon for a couple weeks we are going to hear so much criticism. From a Republicans and others that he led to. Sauna this so we are just at the beginning and aspiring not here are ABC's -- soundly in our Washington bureau thank you so much back. They ever seen is just -- these developments around the clock to get updates go to these to our top stories starve them on the ABC news phone apps. Now have a complete wrap up later on world news and on Good Morning America. I'm Byron Pitts and in New York. --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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