U.S. fighter jets, drones target ISIS fighters, convoys in Iraq

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — U.S. fighter jets and drones repeatedly bombed Sunni Islamic extremists in northern Iraq, targeting what officials described as ISIS artillery units and convoys advancing on the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil.

The airstrikes Friday ramped up America’s involvement in Iraq where ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, is seizing control of towns and key infrastructure in an advance that has forced hundreds of thousands to run for their lives.

News of the second round of U.S. airstrikes came just after the governor of Irbil told CNN that ISIS may be as close as 30 kilometers (just over 18 miles) from the city of more than a million people.

The operation began hours after President Barack Obama authorized “targeted airstrikes,” saying in a televised address late Thursday that the United States had an obligation to protect its personnel in Iraq and prevent a potential genocide of minority groups by ISIS.

Obama said there will be no buildup of U.S. combat troops in Iraq. “As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” the President said.

Hitting ISIS

Two U.S. F/A 18 fighters first struck an ISIS artillery unit outside of Irbil, dropping two 500-pound laser-guided bombs about 6:45 a.m. ET Friday, Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

Later, a drone targeted an ISIS mortar position, Kirby said. When ISIS fighters returned to the site a short time later, the drone struck the target again, he said.

That was followed a short time later by a second round of airstrikes, carried out by four U.S. fighter jets, which targeted an ISIS convoy of seven vehicles and another mortar position, Kirby said.

The F/A 18s made two passes, dropping a total of eight laser-guided bombs, he said.

The United States has hundreds of military personnel in Iraq, including advisers sent in recent weeks to coordinate with Iraqi and Kurdish military officials in response to the ISIS rampage. The USS George H.W. Bush and other Navy ships also are in the region.

Airstrikes are crucial because ISIS fighters are well-armed and are outgunning the Kurdish forces, thanks to the weapons the militants seized from the Iraqi military in Mosul, Irbil Gov. Nawzad Hadi said.

Militants using U.S.-made weapons

Even as the airstrikes were under way, there was news that ISIS militants captured Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam, just north of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. According to a senior Kurdish official, the militant fighters have been using U.S.-made weapons seized during fighting from the Iraqi army, including M1 Abrams tanks.

There had been conflicting reports about who controlled the dam on the Tigris River, with heavy fighting under way between ISIS fighters and Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga. U.S. officials have warned that a failure of the dam would be catastrophic, resulting in flooding all the way to Baghdad.

In other fighting, an Iraqi airstrike killed 45 ISIS fighters and injured 60 Friday in the northern town of Sinjar, the country’s state-run National Media Center said.

U.S. flights prohibited

In other signs of a growing regional conflict: The Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying through Iraqi airspace “due to the hazardous situation created by the armed conflict.”

The developments showed that the lightning advance by ISIS fighters across northern Iraq this year has become a battle for the nation’s future and overall stability in a part of the world wracked for decades by periodic war.

Kurdish pleas

In announcing his airstrike decision Thursday night, Obama said the militants would get hit “should they move towards the city.”

Kurdish leaders have been pleading for the United States or NATO to buttress their forces against ISIS from the air. The President seems to have heard their appeal.

“We do whatever is necessary to protect our people,” Obama said, adding, “We support our allies when they’re in danger.”

Before Obama announced the airstrikes, two U.S. military cargo planes airdropped 5,300 gallons of water and 8,000 meals onto Mount Sinjar, where some Yazidi children had died from dehydration.

A Predator drone flying overhead indicates the Yazidis have 63 of the 72 pallets dropped with aid supplies. It’s not clear if the other pallets missed the drop zone or are in ISIS hands.

ISIS overran Sinjar last weekend, forcing tens of thousands of Yazidis to flee into surrounding mountains without food, water or shelter, and prompting concerns of a potential genocide. The Yazidis are of Kurdish descent, and their religion is considered a pre-Islamic sect that draws from Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.

Beheadings

ISIS has executed people who don’t share their fanatical interpretation of Sunni Islam and posted videos of their killings to the Internet. “Convert to Islam or die” is the militants’ ultimatum to those captured.

Its members have also have beheaded victims and placed their heads on spikes to strike terror in the population, a senior administration official said.

16 comments

  • manalishi

    “Kurdish leaders have been pleading for the United States or NATO to buttress their forces against ISIS from the air. The President seems to have heard their appeal.” So It has nothing to do with the christian slaughter after all. Barry Soertoro always sides with islam,,,just as he promised in his own book.

  • Robbie

    Pour it on Mr. President! Now if you would pull us out of NATO I’d really be happy. Let France, Germany and the other chickens fend for themselves. NATO is a joke!

  • Becky

    Isn’t it odd that the US weapons Freely Furnished to Syria are now in the hands of Al Qaeda, Humas, and ISIS?. Wasn’t Putin Blamed for that? Isn’t it odd that Gaddafi’s Infamous Armory and More Infamous Chemical Weapons Arsenal was left to the known “Rebel”/Terrorists”? Aren’t they the same Libya “Rebel/Terrorist” that have Attacked US
    embassies, repetitively, and kill Our Ambassador and American Service Personnel? Are those the same chemical used in Syria by “Rebel/Terrorist” to cause conflicts with Russia? Arab Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter as orchestrated in the US Soros, Samantha Power, hubby, Sunstein & Nuland for the US to Finance.
    Ah the Infamous Most Intelligent Nobel Peace Prize Winner “rebranding” and spreading his own chaos, turmoil and
    conflicts World-Wide and Domestically. Too clearly transparent for PC to SEE? Too Truthful to deal with?

  • Becky

    World in Chaos, Obama goes on VACATION!!!, after a week with No Public Schedule, and Birthday Celebrations/Golf.
    He really takes his Job seriously. Transferred Command to Government Pravda New Agency..

  • Becky

    The Most Intelligent, Nobel Peace Prize Winner IS the Commander-in-Chief . So naturally, All is Well.
    Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Russia, Israel, Palestine, African continent, Egypt, etc., etc..
    Al Qaeda, ISIS, Human and all their other spin offs, are on the run, defeated. Now they are on US City Streets,
    Nationwide protesting and proclaiming themselves.

    • Robbie

      Go to your bathroom, open the medicine cabinet and take how ever many pills you were supposed to take this morning. You’ll feel much better. Things aren’t as bad as the voices are telling you. The middle east will be fighting long after you and I are gone. Russia has been a pain in our rear end since WWII. This is still the best country in the world.

      • manalishi

        Russia is only a problem because democrats have botched every aspect of foreign policy since WW2. Truman was a waste, Kennedy got what he gave, carter,,,,Bwaaaa! Clintoon let bin laden run wild. And Barry Licks the blood off of his own hand.

      • C

        Go in your closet, close your eyes, stop up your ears, drink, take those drugs your hope to legalized, and
        continue to refuse, excuse, and cover up what IS clearly obvious and transparent, as is the SOP/MO/Mantras.
        It is documented, recorded, evidenced and proven This Most Intelligent LIES along with his entire Administration.
        If you close your eyes, clap really hard, and wish….Tinker Bell will come back and sprinkle Fairy Dust all over
        the Hollywood Production of Obama, The Most Intelligent, Legal Eagle, Nobel Prize Winner.

  • Jim

    The U.S. spends billions on propaganda every year. In 2012 they passed a law to get rid of the Smith-Mundt restrictions on directing propaganda at citizens of the United States so that they could prop up unpopular policies.

    Besides President Obama needs to distract people from his many fiascos.

    • marie

      S t f u sissy white girl. I could buck at you and you’d fall to your knees. Internet tough girl. Big and bad behind the keyboard. Nice and quiet in person

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