U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday U.S. airstrikes have destroyed arms and equipment that Islamic State insurgents could have used to attack Arbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital, but warned the current operation in Iraq could take some time.
"I don't think we're going to solve this problem in weeks. This is going to take some time," Obama told reporters.
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"This is going to be a long-term project," he said during a brief news conference before leaving Washington for a two-week vacation in Massachusetts.
Obama said the United States would continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Baghdad government and Kurdish forces, but stressed repeatedly the importance of Iraq forming its own inclusive government.
"I think this a wake-up call for a lot of Iraqis inside of Baghdad recognizing that we're going to have to rethink how we do business if we're going to hold our country together," Obama said.
Obama on Thursday authorized the U.S. military to make airdrops of humanitarian assistance to prevent what he called a potential "genocide" of the ancient Yazidi religious sect in Iraq and conduct targeted strikes on Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq, a limited operation to protect American officials working in the country.
In Saturday's remarks, Obama described next steps, including creating a safe corridor for the Yazidis to leave the mountain. He also said longer-term operations must include counter-terrorism.