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US jets conduct new rounds of airstrikes in Iraq near Erbil

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US military aircraft conducted at least three rounds of airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Iraq on Friday. This time there are reports of IS militant casualties, CBS News reported.

All of the bombings occurred around Erbil, the capital city of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, including on a target northwest the city, CNN reported. The first strike took place Friday morning, when US jets bombed IS positions in the northern part of the country.

The second strike was conducted with a US military drone, which likely fired a Hellfire missile, CNN’s Barbara Starr reported. Hellfires are known for their precision during bombings. That attack was on a mortar position. Militants left the scene, and when they returned, they were attacked by a different US asset.

Reuters / U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter / Handout / Files

Reuters / U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter / Handout / Files

About an hour later, a more comprehensive strike occurred, when four F/A-18 naval jets attacked a stationary convoy of seven IS vehicles, as well as a different mortar position. A total of eight bombs, likely 500-lbs, GPS-guided bombs that are the “weapon of choice” for attacking mobile targets and avoiding civilian casualties, Starr said.

The jets are likely flying combat air patrols and attacking targets as they see them, CNN’s Pentagon reporter added.

US Vice President Joe Biden spoke via telephone with Iraqi President Fuad Masum on Friday and addressed the American strikes in northern Iraq, as well as the need for Iraq to build a new government.

“The Vice President emphasized the threat ISIL presented to all Iraqis and affirmed the US commitment to support Iraq and all of its citizens – from north to south – as they work to defend the country against this international threat,” the White House said in a statement.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told CBS that it wasn’t clear how many Islamic State jihadists might have been killed in the strike.

In the Friday morning strike, two F/A-18 aircraft took off from the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf. They dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece that was shelling the Peshmerga (armed Kurdish fighters) near Erbil, Kirby said. US personnel, including an American consulate, are based in the city.

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