US aircraft hit Islamic State artillery in Iraq -Pentagon

US aircraft hit Islamic State artillery in Iraq -Pentagon
File photo of a member of the Kurdish peshmerga forces sitting with a weapon during an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Makhmur

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

Two F/A-18 aircraft 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 rebels had been using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where US personnel are located. "The decision to strike was made by the US Central Command commander under authorisation granted him by the commander in chief," he said.

On Thursday US President Barack Obama authorised air strikes on Iraq to protect Christians and prevent "genocide" of tens of thousands of members of an ancient sect sheltering on a desert mountaintop from Islamic State fighters threatening to exterminate them.

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