MOSCOW, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - US combat aircraft are delivering airstrikes on positions of Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman said Friday.
"US military aircraft conduct strike on ISIL artillery. Artillery was used against Kurdish forces defending Erbil, near US personnel," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby wrote in his Twitter blog.
Fighters with the Islamic State, a Sunni militant group formerly known as ISIL or ISIS, seized three towns during last weekend offensive, among them the town of Sinjar, which is home to many Yazidi Kurds, an ethnic and religious minority in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.
About 50,000 Yazidis are hiding in the mountains, blocked by the militants and at risk of starving to death.
US President Barack Obama late on Thursday gave the green light to US airstrikes on IS targets. The announcement was followed by phone talks between US Vice President Joe Biden and Massoud Barzani, the leader of Iraqi Kurds, who discussed the dire emergency situation facing Yazidi refugees.
The US president said the offensive would seek to lift the IS siege of the Kurdish capital Erbil to prevent the “genocide” of the Yazidi population. The Islamic State is seeking to establish a caliphate in the occupied territories and unite all Muslims under its banner. In July, the UN said it was alarmed by incoming reports that insurgents used threats against non-Mulsims forcing them to convert or face execution.