The United States launched another round of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq Friday, using drones and a fighter jets to attack a mortar position and vehicle convoy near Erbil, the Pentagon said. The strikes came a day after they were threatened by President Barack Obama.
A drone struck a mortar position twice at around 10 a.m. ET, killing ISIS fighters who returned to the site after the first attack, Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. About an hour later, four F-18 fighter jets dropped a total of eight laser-guided bombs on a convoy of seven vehicles and a mortar position, destroying both.
Earlier Friday, two 500-pound bombs were dropped by two Navy F-18 fighter jets at a target also near Erbil, the strategically important city that serves as the Kurdish capital, and where the United States has a consulate. ISIS was using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil, the Pentagon said.
The fighter jets took off from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, in the Persian Gulf. After the first strike, the warplanes returned a short time later to hit the target a second time. The mission marked a return to U.S. military engagement in Iraq, three years after Obama removed U.S. forces.
Obama, in a speech Thursday night from the White House, said that he was authorizing airstrikes to protect American interests in Iraq and drops of food and water for tens of thousands of refugees trapped by ISIS on a mountain in Iraq.
Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday: “As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities.” ISIS and ISIL are acronyms to describe the same Islamic militant group.
— Jim Miklaszewski, Courtney Kube and Erin McClam
First published August 8 2014, 5:56 AM