US launches first ‘offensive’ airstrike on ISIS near Baghdad  

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A U.S. F/A-18C Hornet fighting plane, assigned to the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron 147, rolls into a turn while flying on a combat mission over Iraq, in this photograph obtained on April 3, 2005. (Reuters)

The United States launched at least one airstrike against Islamic State militants near Baghdad on Monday, marking the expansion of the US military campaign against the extremist group. The airstrike was reportedly requested by Iraqi forces under attack.

According to US officials cited by the Associated Press, the airstrike was authorized after Iraqi security forces requested air power support as they engaged Islamic State (IS) fighters south of Baghdad.

An unnamed defense official, meanwhile, told NBC News that the most recent air attack near Baghdad was an “offensive” strike, and there was no suggestion that militants were making headway towards the country’s capital.

US Central Command confirmed the air strike and affirmed that it was part of a new phase in the battle against IS.

Previous airstrikes in Iraq were characterized by the US as “defensive” in nature, as they were used to protect American diplomatic sites as well as crucial Iraqi facilities like the Mosul Dam.

By directly supporting Iraqi forces from the air as they participated in what ABC News described as a “firefight,” officials say the US is beginning to act on President Barack Obama’s strategy to actively engage the Islamic State (IS). As Obama announced last week, his plan is to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the group through expanded airstrikes and by forming a coalition against it.

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An image grab taken from a handout video released by the United States Central Command (Centcom) on August 8, 2014, shows a US military F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet strike on what the US army says is an Islamic State (IS) target at an undisclosed location in northern Iraq. (AFP PHOTO / HO / CENTCOM)

Additionally, the US also launched at least one airstrike near Sinjar Mountain in northwestern Iraq, where ethnic minorities like the Yazidis were previously cornered by militants and faced starvation.

Read more at RT News

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