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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 in Ferguson, Mo., to "take a step back" and consider how to best move forward.

"Now's the time for healing," Obama said. "Now's the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson."

The president called on local police to be "open and transparent" about their investigation of Brown's death. He said there is never an excuse for looting and violence towards police by officers, nor is there any excuse "for police to use excessive force against peaceful protesters."

In particular, Obama criticized police for detaining two journalists during protests Wednesday, and for threatening others. Officers "should not be bullying or arresting journalists trying to do their jobs," he said.

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

Obama called the teenager's death "heartbreaking," and said the Department of Justice is working with local officials on the investigation.

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, and all Americans should be proud of the military's efforts

"The situation in Iraq has greatly improved," Obama said.

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 eventually take control of the fight against militants.

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