Times of Oman
Nov 26, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 04:46 PM GMT
US aircraft hit ISIS targets near Iraqi Kurdistan capital: Pentagon
August 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Kurdish peshmerga troops patrol in a tank during an operation against Islamic State militants in Makhmur, on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh August 7, 2014. Photo - Reuters/Stringer

Washington: US military aircraft conducted an airstrike on Friday on Islamic State artillery used against Kurdish forces defending the city of Erbil, Iraq, near US personnel, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Two F/A-18 fighter jets dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Erbil, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement. He said the Islamic state fighters had been using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region. 

The United States has a consulate and, since Iraq's latest security crisis erupted in June, a joint military operations centre in Erbil.

"The decision to strike was made by the US Central Command commander under authorisation granted him by the commander in chief," Kirby said. He said the strike occurred at 13:45 in Arbil (1045 GMT). 

According to military officials, the strike was launched from the US aircraft carrier the USS George HW
Bush. In June, the Pentagon ordered the ship to the Gulf in preparation for any possible military action in Iraq.

The strike came only hours after US President Barack Obama authorised airstrikes on Iraq late on Thursday to protect Christians and avert "a potential act of genocide" of tens of thousands of members of the ancient Yazidi sect who have taken refuge on a desert mountaintop from Islamic State forces. The United States has also begun dropping relief supplies to the refugees.

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