US confirms fresh airstrikes against IS fighters near Irbil
President Barack Obama - AP/Luke Sharrett
AFP

WASHINGTON: United States warplanes and drones pummeled Islamic State militants near Irbil in a fresh wave of airstrikes on Sunday, destroying armed trucks and a mortar position, the U.S. military confirmed.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said five strikes had been carried out from 0615 GMT, when aircraft struck and destroyed an armed vehicle firing on Kurdish forces outside Irbil in northern Iraq.

Shortly after the strike, U.S. forces located another IS armed truck moving away from the area and destroyed it, CENTCOM said.

In a further attack at around 0740 GMT, U.S. aircraft struck and destroyed an IS mortar position and damaged a nearby truck.

Two more IS armed vehicles were hit in additional strikes before all U.S. aircraft exited the area safely, the military said.

The attacks mark the third day of airstrikes launched by the United States in an effort to halt the advance of Islamic militants who are threatening Irbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdish region.

President Barack Obama authorized the strikes on Thursday to help break the siege of Mount Sinjar, where thousands of civilian refugees from the Yazidi religious minority had been trapped.

A Yazidi lawmaker said Sunday at least 20,000 had managed to flee the siege with the help of Kurdish troops and cross into Kurdistan via Syria.

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