Airstrikes Begin: U.S. Navy Planes Drop Bombs on ISIS Forces
The United States dropped laser-guided bombs on ISIS artillery in Iraq on Friday, the Pentagon said — the beginning of airstrikes threatened a day earlier by President Barack Obama.
The bombs, 500 pounds each, were dropped by two Navy F-18 fighter jets 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. 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.
Rear Adm. John 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.