U.S. Airstrikes in Iraq Have Begun

After conducting humanitarian air-drops Thursday night, the U.S. is now going after ISIS.

Iraqis inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion outside the Shiite Mustafa prayer hall, or Husseiniya, in the southwest of the northern Kurdish controlled Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Aug. 7.
National Journal
Matt Berman
Aug. 8, 2014, 4:59 a.m.

The Pentagon has an­nounced that U.S. air­strikes have be­gun in Ir­aq.

Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a state­ment that the “tar­geted air­strike” oc­curred at roughly 6:45 a.m. EDT Fri­day morn­ing and con­sisted of 500-pound, laser-guided bombs dropped by two F/A-18 air­craft. The at­tack was on a piece of ar­til­lery that the Pentagon says was be­ing used to at­tack Kur­d­ish forces de­fend­ing Er­bil, where U.S. per­son­nel and a U.S. con­su­late are loc­ated.

A second round of air­strikes tar­get­ing IS­IS came later Fri­day morn­ing. At 10 a.m. EDT, a drone hit an IS­IS mor­tar, ac­cord­ing to Kirby. A second strike came at ap­prox­im­ately 11:20 a.m., con­duc­ted by four F/A-18 jets on a con­voy of sev­en IS­IS vehicles and a mor­tar po­s­i­tion near Er­bil.

CBS re­ports that IS­IS has suffered cas­u­al­ties in the new at­tacks, and the Pentagon says that IS­IS fight­ers were “suc­cess­fully elim­in­ated.”

The mil­it­ary ac­tion comes after Pres­id­ent Obama an­nounced Thursday night that the U.S. had con­duc­ted a hu­man­it­ari­an op­er­a­tion to air-drop food and wa­ter to thou­sands of Ir­aqis un­der siege by the Is­lam­ic State in Ir­aq and Syr­ia (IS­IS). The United Na­tions Refugee Agency said it is work­ing with the Ir­aqi gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish refugee camps, “but as front lines con­tin­ue to shift, sites can quickly be­come in­sec­ure.”

Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil spokes­wo­man Ber­na­dette Mee­han said that the White House is keep­ing Con­gress in­formed of its ac­tions. “The ad­min­is­tra­tion has been con­sult­ing closely with Con­gress about events in Ir­aq over the past num­ber of weeks and has ad­di­tion­ally con­sul­ted with Con­gress on these ac­tions,” she said.

The Fed­er­al Avi­ation Ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced Fri­day that it has banned U.S.-op­er­ated air­lines from fly­ing over Ir­aq due to the “the po­ten­tially haz­ard­ous situ­ation cre­ated by the armed con­flict,” su­per­sed­ing a pre­vi­ous ad­vis­ory that sus­pen­ded air­craft from fly­ing be­low 30,000 feet in Ir­aqi air­space.

Obama warned Thursday of a pos­sible gen­o­cide in Ir­aq’s north­w­est, where tens of thou­sands of Ir­aqi Yazidi ci­vil­ians have been stran­ded for days on a moun­tain­top, threatened by IS­IS forces. On Thursday, the U.S. suc­cess­fully air-dropped 5,300 gal­lons of drink­ing wa­ter and 8,000 meals ready-to-eat near Sin­jar.

“We can act, care­fully and re­spons­ibly, to pre­vent a po­ten­tial act of gen­o­cide,” Obama said Thursday night. 

The AP re­leased raw video Fri­day morn­ing of Ir­aqi army troops de­liv­er­ing hu­man­it­ari­an aid to Yazid­is:

House Speak­er John Boehner is­sued a state­ment Fri­day morn­ing, say­ing that while the au­thor­iz­a­tion of air­strikes is “ap­pro­pri­ate,” he is “dis­mayed by the on­go­ing ab­sence of a strategy for coun­ter­ing the grave threat IS­IS poses to the re­gion.” Boehner called on Obama to form a “long-term strategy” and said that he is “ready to listen and work” with Obama if such a strategy is put for­ward.

This story is break­ing and will be up­dated.

Contributions by Marina Koren and Brian Resnick