Written by News 1st
16 Sep, 2014 | 9:10 am
The United States launched at least one airstrike against Islamic State militants (ISIS) near Baghdad on Monday, marking the expansion of the US military campaign against the extremist group. The airstrike was reportedly requested by Iraqi forces under attack.
According to US officials cited by the Associated Press, the airstrike was authorized after Iraqi security forces requested air power support as they engaged Islamic State (IS) fighters south of Baghdad.
An unnamed defense official, meanwhile, told NBC News that the most recent air attack near Baghdad was an “offensive” strike, and there was no suggestion that militants were making headway towards the country’s capital.
US Central Command confirmed the air strike and affirmed that it was part of a new phase in the battle against IS.
Previous airstrikes in Iraq were characterized by the US as “defensive” in nature, as they were used to protect American diplomatic sites as well as crucial Iraqi facilities like the Mosul Dam.
By directly supporting Iraqi forces from the air as they participated in what ABC News described as a “firefight,” officials say the US is beginning to act on President Barack Obama’s strategy to actively engage the Islamic State (IS). As Obama announced last week, his plan is to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the group through expanded airstrikes and by forming a coalition against it.
Additionally, the US also launched at least one airstrike near Sinjar Mountain in northwestern Iraq, where ethnic minorities like the Yazidis were previously cornered by militants and faced starvation.
The offensive strike comes as the US attempts to cobble together an international coalition in order to fight the militants in Iraq and Syria. Countries including France and Australia have committed themselves to taking part in the aerial campaign, according to CNN. France is currently carrying out reconnaissance flights over Iraq, while Australia is sending aircraft to the United Arab Emirates for potential deployment.
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