Iraq: US air strike on Islamic State militants in Iraq

President Barack Obama authorised air strikes on Thursday, but said he would not send US troops back to Iraq.
President Barack Obama authorised air strikes on Thursday, but said he would not send US troops back to Iraq.

The US says it has launched an air strike against militants from the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.

The Pentagon said American aircraft attacked artillery that was being used against Kurdish forces defending the northern city of Irbil.

President Barack Obama authorised air strikes on Thursday, but said he would not send US troops back to Iraq.

The Sunni Muslim group IS, formerly known as Isis, now has control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

In June, IS took control of the city of Mosul. Earlier this week, its fighters seized Qaraqosh, Iraq’s biggest Christian town.

The advance of IS also forced tens of thousands of people from the Yazidi community – another minority group in northern Iraq – to leave their homes and seek shelter on a nearby mountain.

The United Nations says it is working on opening a humanitarian corridor in northern Iraq to allow stranded people to flee.

According to the Pentagon statement, two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery near Irbil, where US personnel are based.

The air strike is the first time the US has been directly involved in a military operation in Iraq since American troops withdrew in late 2011.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the world needed to wake up to the threat posed by the IS group.

Its “campaign of terror against the innocent, including the Yazidi and Christian minorities, and its grotesque targeted acts of violence show all the warning signs of genocide,” he said.

Speaking from the White House on Thursday, President Obama said “America is coming to help” the people of Iraq.

He accused IS fighters of attempting the systematic destruction of entire populations.

At the same time, he announced that US military planes had already carried out air drops of food and water, at the request of the Iraqi government, to the many displaced Yazidis who are in need of supplies.

BBC

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