US official: More airstrikes in Iraq since video of journalist’s death was released
WASHINGTON (AP) - American fighter jets and drones continued to pound Islamic State militants in Iraq on Wednesday, and military planners weighed the possibility of sending a small number of additional U.S. troops to Baghdad, U.S. officials said, even as the insurgents threatened to kill a second American captive in retribution for any continued attacks.
The airstrikes came in the hours after militants released a gruesome video Tuesday showing U.S. journalist James Foley being beheaded and underscored President Barack Obama’s vow Wednesday afternoon to continue attacks against the group despite its threats.
According to a senior U.S. official, the number of additional troops currently under discussion would be fewer than 300, but there has been no final decision yet by Pentagon leaders. Officials said that the forces were requested by the State Department and, if approved, would mainly provide extra security around Baghdad.
The 14 latest airstrikes were in the area of the Mosul Dam and were aimed at helping Iraqi and Kurdish forces create a buffer zone at the key facility. The strikes, which now total 84 since operations began, have helped Iraqi and Kurdish troops reclaim the dam from the insurgents.
The militants threatened to kill Steven Sotloff, an American journalist who is also being held captive, if the U.S. continued to conduct airstrikes.
Outraged over death of journalist, world powers consider new front against Islamic State
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States launched a new barrage of airstrikes against Islamic State extremists Wednesday and weighed sending more troops to Iraq as President Barack Obama vowed to be relentless in pursuit of the terrorist group that beheaded an American journalist and is holding other U.S. citizens hostage.
In brief but forceful remarks, Obama said the U.S. would “do what we must to protect our people,” but stopped short of promising to follow the Islamic State into its safe haven in Syria, where officials said Wednesday that James Foley was killed. However, when pressed, the State Department refused to rule out future U.S. military operations in Syria, where Obama has long resisted intervening in a three-year civil war.
The Islamic State called Foley’s death a revenge killing for U.S. airstrikes against militants in Iraq, and said other hostages would be slain if the attacks continued. Undeterred, the U.S. conducted 14 additional strikes after a video of the beheading surfaced, bringing to 84 the number of airstrikes since they began on Aug. 8.
Foley’s mother said she is praying for other hostages being held by the Sunni-dominated terror group, and described her son’s slaying as “just evil.”
Social media pushes back at gruesome propaganda by Islamic militants