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U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants in northern Iraq
U.S. military jets carried out two airstrikes Friday on Islamist militants outside the Kurdish capital of Irbil, hours after President Obama authorized attacks against the Sunni extremists advancing on the northern Iraq city.
The F-18 combat aircraft targeted artillery being used by militants of the Islamic State extremist group against Kurdish forces defending Irbil, the Kurdish regional capital, the Pentagon said. It said the artillery was fired at Kurdish forces "near U.S. personnel."
The planes dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs at about 6:45 a.m. EDT, said Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.
Obama authorized the strikes late Thursday following the launch of a powerful offensive by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. He also sent U.S. military aircraft to drop food and water to besieged Iraqi civilians in the region.
The U.S. airstrikes hit Islamic State positions in Makhmour, about 35 miles southwest of Irbil, said Mahmood Haji, an official at the Kurdish Interior Ministry. "This is a victory for all the Iraqi people, for the pesh merga, and for America," he said. "We need these airstrikes to destroy their bases and vehicles so the pesh merga can move forward." The pesh merga is the Kurdish security force.
In White House statement, he said the United States would use targeted attacks against extremist convoys "should they move toward" Irbil, where the United States maintains a consulate and a joint operations center with the Iraqi military. "We intend to take action if they threaten our facilities anywhere in Iraq . . . including Irbil and Baghdad," he said.
[Source: By Karen DeYoung and Loveday Morris, The Washington Post, 08Aug14]
War in Iraq
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