WASHINGTON — American warplanes struck Sunni militant positions in northern Iraq on Friday, the Pentagon said in a statement, confirming the first significant American military operation since ground troops left Iraq in 2011.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon Press Secretary, said that two F-18 fighters dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery target near Erbil. Militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil, Admiral Kirby said in a statement.
The strike followed President Obama’s announcement Thursday night that he had authorized limited air strikes to protect American citizens in Erbil and Baghdad, and, if necessary, to break the siege of tens of thousand of refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.
“As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities,” Admiral Kirby said, referring to the Islamic militants.