US launches airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq have begun -- a day after President Barack Obama authorized those strikes, and humanitarian aid in that country's north.

A Pentagon spokesman says two F/A-18 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on a piece of artillery and the truck towing it. The Pentagon says the militants were using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending the city of Irbil (ur-BEEL').

The planes took off from the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf.

The spokesman says it's not clear how many militants may have been killed in the strike.

In a speech last night in which he threatened to renew U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Obama also announced that U.S. military planes had already dropped food and water to tens of thousands of members of Iraqi religious minorities atop a mountain surrounded by militants.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters today that the U.S. military has enough intelligence resources and assets in place to launch strikes by both manned and unmanned aircraft in the region.

%@AP Links

164-c-14-(Vivian Salama (sah-LAH'-mah), AP correspondent)-"this situation alone"-AP correspondent Vivian Salama reports that many Iraqis now realize that the threat posed by advancing Sunni militants is too great to handle internally. (8 Aug 2014)

<<CUT *164 (08/08/14)££ 00:14 "this situation alone"

163-c-20-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP national security correspondent)-"authorized military action"-AP National Security Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports U.S. fighter jets have carried out airstrikes in Iraq. (8 Aug 2014)

<<CUT *163 (08/08/14)££ 00:20 "authorized military action"

162-c-20-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP national security correspondent)-"personnel are located"-AP National Security Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports the U.S. has launched its first airstrikes in Iraq. (8 Aug 2014)

<<CUT *162 (08/08/14)££ 00:20 "personnel are located"

APPHOTO GFX3153: Graphic shows area of U.S. airdrop; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm; (8 Aug 2014)

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APPHOTO WHCD107: President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Iraq in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Obama says he has authorized the U.S. military to launch targeted airstrikes if Islamic militants advance toward American personnel in northern Iraq. He also has announced that the military carried out airdrops of humanitarian aid Thursday to Iraqi religious minorities threatened by the extremists.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (7 Aug 2014)

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