Washington has warned there is no quick fix to halting the advance of Islamic State militants who have been proudly showing off their latest prize in an unverified video.
Images obtained from a social media website purport to show the fighters raising their flag over several prominent locations in northern Iraq, including the Mosul dam, the country’s biggest.
The US has carried out more airstrikes against the jihadists formerly known as ISIL. But there will be no American boots on the ground insisted President Obama, before heading off on holiday.
“So far these strikes have successfully destroyed arms and equipment that ISIL terrorists could have used against Arbil,” said Obama, speaking at a podium on the White House lawn with Marine One, the presidential helicopter, parked in the background.
“Meanwhile Kurdish forces on the ground continue to 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.”
“I don’t thing we are going to solve this problem in weeks, if that is what you mean,” he told reporters.
“I think this is going to take some time.”
The militants are now encroaching on Arbil, the Kurdish capital, having already taken swathes of territory in northern Iraq. They have killed captives and forced tens of thousands to flee, notably minority Yazidis, now stranded on a mountainside.
The displaced Yazidis are now receiving aid drops from the US working with Iraqi authorities. Britain and France are also involved in the humanitarian emergency effort.