Pentagon announces airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq

Photo: Pentagon announces airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq / Arab World

The U.S. military said Friday it has launched targeted airstrikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in north Iraq by dropping two laser-guided bombs on their mobile artillery.

"The mission really is to protect American personnel in Erbil and potentially even in and around Baghdad. And this is an important point -- to try to help Iraqi security forces as they go after this threat," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at an emergency press briefing.

"This is a threat inside their country, to their people, to their sovereignty, and ultimately this is an Iraqi fight to fight," he said.

"For our part, we're committed to two things -- one is trying to relieve that humanitarian issue there on Mount Sinjar and of course being prepared and ready to conduct air strikes to protect American personnel," Kirby added.

It's a problem for the international community, which has also responded with some humanitarian assistance, he noted, adding that the U.S. army is prepared to do what President Barack Obama has authorized: providing air drops of supplies to those Iraqi citizens on Mount Sinjar, and conducing airstrikes on ISIL targets "if and when required."

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