President Obama notified Congress of his authorization of the bombing and humanitarian airdrop campaign to help Shiite Turkmen surrounded by ISIS in the town of Amirli, Iraq, according to a letter released by the White House today.
"These additional operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli," Obama wrote.
Up until this point, Obama has publicly justified military actions against ISIS as protecting U.S. personnel stationed in Erbil and to assist Yezidis trapped on Mt. Sinjar. In this new letter - which could be construed as a bit unusual because it concerns an expansion of the anti-ISIS campaign he's already announced - Obama defines the Amirli strikes as solely a humanitarian/assistance mission, not as protecting Americans.
The letter followed Obama's standard practice, to announce strikes (usually two days later) in a letter to Congress "consistent with" the War Powers Resolution - an act of Congress that Obama and other presidents have declined to acknowledge as binding.
The Pentagon announced on Saturday that it had extended its bombing campaign southward to help the Turkmen. Strikes and humanitarian drops began on Saturday. Strikes continued Sunday.
U.S. bombs have been falling mostly around Mosul and Mosul Dam since Obama authorized the anti-ISIS campaign three weeks ago. This weekend, the Pentagon announced a handful of strikes that brought the total to 120 in Iraq since they began Aug. 8.