US President Barack Obama says he has authorised air strikes against Islamic militants in northern Iraq but will not send US troops back to the country.
He said Islamic State (IS) fighters would be targeted to prevent the slaughter of religious minorities or if they threaten US interests.
No strikes have been made yet but the US has made humanitarian air drops to Iraqis under threat from the militants.
IS has seized Qaraqosh, Iraq’s biggest Christian town, forcing locals to flee.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday evening after meetings with his national security advisers, Mr. Obama said US military aircraft had dropped food and water to members of the Yazidi religious minority community who were trapped on Mount Sinjar by the IS fighters.
Officials had warned that the Yazidis faced starvation and dehydration if they remained on the mountain, and slaughter at the hands of the IS if they fled.