Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said IS had been using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil [the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan], where US personnel are based.
Reports on US aircraft sorties in the Arab country emerged on Thursday, however, Pentagon disproved them. On Thursday, US President Barack Obama authorised pinpoint airstrikes on the IS positions if the American diplomats and military are threatened.
Obama authorized two operations in Iraq. The first is targeted airstrikes to defend Americans. The most immediate threat now is in Erbil, where the United States maintains a consulate. The IS has launched a broad attack that has threatened the city. The airstrikes are not limited to Erbil, the Pentagon said.
Manned and unmanned US intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft are over Erbil now, senior administration officials said.
The second operation is to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain. “In recent days, the Yezidi women, men, and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives, and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, are now hiding high up on the mountain with little but the clothes on their backs,” Obama said. “They are without food, they are without water. People are starving, and children are dying of thirst.