- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2014

The Pentagon is now using drones to conduct airstrikes on the Islamic State, a violent extremist group that is persecuting religious minorities in Iraq.

Shortly after 10 a.m., a drone dropped a missile on the mortar position of the Islamic State militants, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. A little more than an hour later, two fighter jets dropped laser-guided bombs on a stationary convoy of Islamic State vehicles positioned near Erbil, Iraq, where U.S. military personnel are stationed, Adm. Kirby said.

There were about seven vehicles in the convoy, Adm. Kirby said.

“The aircraft executed two planned passes,” he said. “On both runs, each aircraft dropped one laser-guided bomb making a total of eight bombs dropped on target neutralizing the mortar and convoy.”

Mr. Obama on Thursday gave the Pentagon the green light to conduct airstrikes on the Islamic State if its forces threatened the U.S. personnel in Erbil. 

A senior administration official told reporters Thursday night that Mr. Obama was prompted to authorize airstrikes and humanitarian aid after the Islamic State launched a multi-pronged attack across hundreds of kilometers in northern Iraq.

SEE ALSO: Obama ‘determined’ to avoid prolonged military action in Iraq

Mr. Obama has also authorized the Pentagon to airdrop humanitarian aid to the minorities seeking shelter on the Sinjar Mountains to avert what he describes as an act of “genocide.”

The Pentagon conducted its first airstrike on the outskirts of Erbil early Friday, destroying a truck that was towing a mobile artillery piece behind it, according to Pentagon officials. The Islamic State was using the artillery to target the Kurdish fighters who are defending Erbil.

Pentagon officials confirmed to The Washington Times that an MQ-1 Predator drone has fired missiles at the Islamic State. The MQ-1 Predator is a hunter-seeker drone that uses specialized sensors to track a target prior to firing missiles at it.

• Maggie Ybarra can be reached at mybarra@washingtontimes.com.

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