Washington (CNN) — Two U.S. F/A-18 jet fighters bombed artillery batteries of Sunni Islamic extremists in Iraq on Friday, escalating America’s military involvement more than two years after President Barack Obama brought home forces from the country.
Obama authorized “targeted airstrikes” if needed to protect U.S. personnel from fighters with the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The U.S. military also could use airstrikes to prevent what officials warn could be a genocide of minority groups by the Islamic State fighters.
The U.S. aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a “mobile artillery piece” used by ISIS at about 6:45 a.m. ET Friday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said. The commander of U.S. Central Command made the decision to strike under authorization granted him by Obama, Kirby said.