President Barack Obama announced Thursday night that he has authorized "targeted" airstrikes in Iraq if they are necessary.
The president said he would do anything necessary to keep U.S. personnel safe.
The U.S. has already begun humanitarian air drops of food, water and supplies for the religious minority groups that have been stranded on a mountain top in Iraq.
The aircraft that made the drop has exited the area safely, according to an official.
"Today, America is coming to help," Obama said.
The president says that innocent Iraqi families face the possibility of "genocide" and the U.S. cannot "turn a blind eye."
Over the past few weeks, the administration has been weighing its options as to how to respond in Iraq, but with the mounting humanitarian catastrophe Yazidis are trapped on a mountain top, the president felt he had to act.
The president's statement marks an increase in U.S. involvement in the crisis in Iraq. President Obama said that the airstrikes, if needed, would not lead to U.S. involvement in a ground war.