President Obama speaks on Iraq and Ferguson

"Let's seek to heal rather than to wound each other. As Americans we got to use this moment to seek out our shared humanity that's been laid bare by this moment," said Obama on the reactions in Ferguson.

Aileen Graef

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama held a press conference Monday afternoon to address the U.S. airstrike campaign in Iraq and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.

Speaking on Iraq, Obama said there has been significant progress in the efforts against the Islamic State's (IS) advancement in the region. He also confirmed that Kurdish forces had recaptured the Mosul dam from IS militants.


"If that dam was breached, it could have proven catastrophic with floods that would have threatened the lives of thousands of civilians and endanger our embassy compound in Baghdad," he said.

Obama added that the U.S. will keep working with the Iraqi government, the U.K., Canada, France, Italy and Australia to deliver humanitarian assistance to the Country. He said the U.S. will continue limited airstrikes and humanitarian missions, but stressed that there will be no "mission creep."

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Switching from foreign policy to domestic issues, Obama addressed the deployment of the National Guard in response to looting and violence in Ferguson, Mo. Protests remain strong over the death of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown who was shot by Officer Darrell Wilson. The president called for justice and peace in the city from both protesters and police.


"It's clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting. It's also clear that a small minority of individuals are not. Though I understand the passions and the anger that arise over the death of Michael Brown, giving into that anger by looting or carrying guns and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos. It undermines rather than advancing justice. Let me also be clear that our constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble and to report in the press must be vigilantly safeguarded, especially in moments like these. There is no excuse for excessive force by police or any action that denies people the right to protest peacefully."

Obama said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is traveling to Ferguson to work with officials on the investigation into Brown's death.

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The commander in chief will attend meetings at the White House Monday and Tuesday before rejoining the first lady on vacation in Martha's Vineyard.

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