US begins airstrikes against Islamic State near Irbil
The US military launched an airstrike against Islamic State forces near the Kurdish capital of Irbil. From Pentagon Press Secretary and Spokesman for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:
US military aircraft conduct strike on ISIL artillery. Artillery was used against Kurdish forces defending Erbil, near US personnel.— Rear Adm. John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 8, 2014
The Department of Defense stated in a press release that F/A-18s dropped two bombs on a "mobile artillery piece' near Irbil:
At about 6:45 a.m. EDT, two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Kirby said, adding that ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending the city, where U.S. personnel are located.
The decision to strike was made by Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, under authorization granted him by the commander in chief, the admiral said.
"As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities," he added.
The US military moved quickly to strike the Islamic State after President Obama issued a statement last night authorizing airstrikes against Islamic State fighters threatening Irbil or US personnel anywhere in Iraq. The US military is also authorized to launch airstrikes to protect civilians stranded on Mount Sinjar. Obama said that US ground forces will not be deployed to Iraq.
Update: The US conducted two additional air strikes against an Islamic State convoy and mortar positions threatening Irbil. From the Department of Defense:
Shortly after 10 a.m. EDT, remotely piloted aircraft struck a terrorist mortar position, Kirby said in a statement. When ISIL fighters returned to the site moments later, he added, the terrorists were attacked again and were killed.
At about 11:20 a.m. EDT, four F/A-18 aircraft successfully struck a stationary ISIL convoy of seven vehicles and a mortar position near Erbil.
"The aircraft executed two planned passes," Kirby said. "On both runs, each aircraft dropped one laser guided bomb making a total of eight bombs dropped on target, neutralizing the mortar and convoy."