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Addressing crises both domestic and foreign, President Obama appealed for calm Thursday amid violent protests in a St. Louis suburb, and said a rescue operation for religious minorities in Iraq will not be necessary.

Obama, speaking from his vacation at Martha's Vineyard, Mass., called the weekend death of 18-year-old Michael Brown a tragedy, and urged police and protesters to "take a step back" and consider how to move forward.

"Now is the time for all of us to reflect on what happened," Obama said.

Police need to be "open and transparent" about their investigation, Obama said. And there is no excuse for looting or violence towards police, nor for police to abuse citizens. Obama criticized police for taking two journalists into custody during protests Wednesday.

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Police used tear gas Wednesday on crowds who gathered to protest the death of Brown on Saturday; some protesters threw Molotov cocktails.

In a written statement on Tuesday, Obama called the teenager's death "heartbreaking," and said the Department of Justice is working with local officials on the case.

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Obama also said that, while the shooting has "prompted strong passions," people should honor Brown "through reflection and understanding," and remain calm.

"We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds," Obama said.

As for Iraq, Obama said there has been progress with the limited military mission he announced last week.

Earlier in the week, the Obama administration began considering a rescue operation for members of the Yazidi religion who were trapped atop Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, surrounded by Islamic State fighters.

On Wednesday, a Pentagon assessment team reported that most of the Yazidi have escaped, and a full-scale rescue operation would not be needed.

"We broke the mountain siege of Sinjar," Obama said, praising the performance of the U.S. military.

Obama said air strikes would continue against militants who are threatening U.S. personnel and others in northern Iraq. He also praised development of a new government in Iraq, saying it will be better able to take control of the fight against militants.

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