IRAQ – The United States began bombing Iraq all over again on Friday, after President Barack Obama announced Thursday that he intended to protect American interests threatened by the jihadists leading the Islamic State (IS).
As confirmed by the Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, the Air Force conducted an attack on IS “artillery” that had been used by IS to attack “Kurdish forces defending Erbil near American personnel.”
The American diplomatic and military personnel in Iraq is concentrated in Baghdad and Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan in the north.
The attack began at 10:45 GMT with two fighter jets F / A-18 dropping 226 kilos of laser-guided bombs against a “piece of mobile artillery” near Erbil, according to the Pentagon. The statement specified that the decision to attack was taken by the Central Command “under the authority of the commander in chief”.
The president announced on Thursday night two decisions on Iraq: military aircraft would launch a humanitarian campaign to aid members of the minority Yazidi besieged by jihadists and air strikes to protect American personnel in this country and prevent a genocide of minorities persecuted by religious jihadists of the Islamic State. Aware of American opposition to a new intervention in Iraq, Obama promised that no troops will be sent to fight on the ground.
The Deputy National Security Advisor to the White House, Ben Rhodes, told MSNBC on Friday that US remains “confident” that the combination of American air force with the action on the ground of the Peshmerga, the Kurdish militia, will be sufficient to contain the spread of the jihadists in Erbil.
The aim of the attacks, he said, is to protect the “perimeter” of Erbil, where the USA established itself in mid-June. There is another military operations center in Baghdad.
Obama’s adviser warned that Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State have obtained heavy weapons in recent weeks and that therefore the United States is providing “extra weapons” to Kurdish militias who are fighting against IS. “We believe it will return to normal after that fight,” he said.
The United States evacuated Iraq in 2011, after eight years of waging war on that country. Obama had tried to leave a contingent of about 5,000 troops after the end of conflict, but a diplomatic incident with the government of Nuri al-Maliki, who refused to provide immunity to American soldiers, stopped the agreement from taking place.