US airstrikes destroy Islamic State arms and equipment

Saturday 09 August 2014 21.58
1 of 2
The US is trying to stop continuing attacks on religious and ethnic minorities
The US is trying to stop continuing attacks on religious and ethnic minorities
Kurdish peshmerga fighters load missile launcher during clashes with Islamic State fighters
Kurdish peshmerga fighters load missile launcher during clashes with Islamic State fighters

US President Barack Obama has said US airstrikes have destroyed arms and equipment that Islamic State insurgents could have used to attack Erbil, the Iraqi Kurdish capital.
              
He declined to give a timetable for the duration of the current operation in Iraq, beyond saying it would not be just weeks.

"This is going to take some time," Mr Obama said during a brief news conference before leaving Washington for a two-week vacation.
              
He said the United States would continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Baghdad government and Kurdish forces, but stressed repeatedly the importance of Iraq forming its own inclusive government.

Mr Obama earlier vowed to continue air strikes against Iraqi jihadists if needed to protect US diplomats and military advisors.

Speaking in his weekly address, Mr Obama said that he had authorised the strikes in Iraq to protect US personnel serving in the northern city of Erbil.

His comments come as US military planes dropped containers with water and tens of thousands of meals to civilians fleeing jihadist violence in Iraq.

"This airdrop was conducted from multiple air bases within the US Central Command area of responsibility and as with last night, included one C-17 and two C-130 cargo aircraft that together dropped a total of 72 bundles of supplies," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The comments come amid reports Islamic State militants have threatened to kill more than 300 families from Iraq's Yazidi ethnic minority unless they convert to Islam, witnesses and a Yazidi lawmaker told Reuters.
              
The families in the villages of Koja, Hatimiya and Qaboshi are surrounded by the Sunni militants who are mounting an offensive through northern Iraq which has sent tens of thousands of Yazidis and Christians fleeing for their lives, prompting international outrage.   

    

His comments come as US military planes dropped containers with water and tens of thousands of meals to civilians fleeing jihadist violence in Iraq.

"This airdrop was conducted from multiple air bases within the US Central Command area of responsibility and as with last night, included one C-17 and two C-130 cargo aircraft that together dropped a total of 72 bundles of supplies," the Pentagon said in a statement.

The cargo planes were accompanied by two F-18 fighter jets from the USS George H.W. Bush, a US aircraft carrier positioned in the Gulf, it said.

The supplies included 28,224 US military rations and 1,522 gallons of drinking water.

"To date, in coordination with the government of Iraq, US military aircraft have delivered 36,224 meals and 6,822 gallons of fresh drinking water, providing much-needed aid to Iraqis," the Pentagon said.

The Obama administration ordered strikes on fighters from the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot yesterday.

The US is trying to stop militants from overrunning Arbil, the capital of Iraq's northern Kurdish enclave, and from continuing attacks on religious and ethnic minorities.           

Yesterday was the first day US warplanes bombed Islamist fighters after President Barack Obama said Washington must act to prevent "genocide".

Islamic State fighters have advanced to within a half hour's drive of Arbil, capital of Iraq's Kurdish region and a hub for US oil companies.

They have also seized control of Iraq's biggest dam, which could allow them to flood cities and cut off vital water and electricity supplies.

Mr Obama this week authorised the first US air strikes on Iraq since he pulled all troops out in 2011.

Keywords: iraq, us