US begins using drones in northern Iraq

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The United States says its drones have started striking ISIL terrorists in northern Iraq to protect Kurdish forces battling to rescue a group of Izadi civilian refugees.

“US military forces continued to attack ISIS terrorists in Iraq today, successfully conducting an airstrike on an ISIS mortar position north of Sinjar,” the US military said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

US begins using drones in northern Iraq

“At approximately 7:55 am (1155 GMT), US remotely piloted aircraft struck and destroyed an ISIS mortar position that was firing on Kurdish forces defending internally displaced Yazidi civilians who were attempting to evacuate,” it said.

The US said on Monday that it has no plans to expand airstrikes in northern Iraq beyond protecting its facilities and citizens from ISIL terrorists.

“There are no plans to expand the current air campaign beyond the current self defense activities,” senior Pentagon official Lieutenant General William Mayville told reporters.

Mayville acknowledged the rising threat of ISIL militants in Iraq and elsewhere in the region. But he said that the principal task of US forces has been to protect US facilities and support humanitarian assistance in militant-held northern region.

“Our principal task to date, and what we are doing right now, is to protect US facilities and the citizens — American citizens — at those facilities,” he said.

In addition, he said, the air campaign was “to protect US aircraft that are supporting humanitarian assistance around Mount Sinjar and to target those ISIL positions that are laying siege to Mount Sinjar.”

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama authorized the use of force against ISIL, which is operating in Iraq and Syria, and promised on Saturday to continue the operations for as long as “necessary” to prevent the advance of ISIL in northern Iraq where American diplomats are stationed.

Obama said that airstrikes could go on for months to protect both US personnel and the Izadi religious minority who are trapped by the militants on the mountain in northern Iraq.

As many as 40,000 Iraqis belonging to the Kurdish minority Izadi are at risk of dying from dehydration and starvation atop Mount Sinjar as militants have vowed to kill them if they descended.

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