The US has continued with its two-pronged mission in Iraq, hitting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets and providing humanitarian aid to thousands of people stranded on Mount Sinjar.
US military forces successfully conducting air-strikes on four ISIL checkpoints and multiple ISIL vehicles near Mt Sinjar in defense of internally displaced Yazidi civilians in the area, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said yesterday.
American fighter aircraft struck and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint southwest of Mt Sinjar.
At the same location, US fighter aircraft struck an armed personnel carrier and an armed truck, destroying both. They also struck and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint south of the city of Sinjar and struck an armed truck and a High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, destroying both.
US fighter aircraft struck another ISIL checkpoint southeast of the city of Sinjar and damaged it and later struck another ISIL checkpoint east of the Sinjar Mountain and destroyed it and an adjacent ISIL truck, the Pentagon said.
Yesterday, the US military conducted a fifth airdrop of food and water for thousands of Iraqi citizens threatened by ISIL on Mt Sinjar.
One C-17 and three C-130 cargo aircraft together dropped a total of 76 bundles of supplies.
The C-17 dropped 40 container delivery system bundles of fresh drinking water totalling 3,804 gallons.
In addition, the three C-130s dropped 36 bundles totalling 11,088 meals ready to eat and 1,331 gallons of fresh drinking water.
So far, US military aircraft have delivered more than 85,000 meals and more than 20,000 gallons of fresh drinking water, providing much-needed aid to the displaced Yazidis, who urgently require emergency assistance.
Earlier in the day, Lt Gen William Mayville, Director of Operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the urgency of the crisis has not gone away.
“It is very important that we find a solution for those that are stranded up there,” he said.
“We need to continue to sustain the humanitarian assistance, and we need to be able to protect that effort.
With regards to the targets, one of the things that we have seen with the ISIL forces is that where they have been in the open, they are now starting to dissipate and to hide amongst the people,” he said in response to a question.
“The targeting in this is going to become more difficult. So it does not surprise me that an Iraqi security forceattempting to re-supply, which in and of itself is no small task, and shows that the Iraqi security forces are very much involved in this effort.
But it does not surprise me then that they’ll be small-arms fire during the ingress of those aircraft or the egress of those aircraft, just because of the way that ISIL formations are moving around,” he added.
To date, US Air Force and Navy aircraft, to include F-15Es, F-16s, F/A-18s, and MQ-1s have executed 15 targeted air-strikes.
These air-strikes have helped check the advance of ISIL forces around Sinjar and in the area west of Erbil, Mayville said.
“We assess that US air-strikes in northern Iraq have slowed ISIL’s operational tempo and temporarily disrupted their advances toward the province of Erbil.
However, these strikes are unlikely to affect ISIL’s overall capabilities or its operations in other areas of Iraq and Syria,” he said.
“ISIL remains focused on securing and gaining additional territory throughout Iraq and will sustain its attacks against Iraqi and Kurdish security forces and their positions, as well as target Yazidis, Christians, and other minorities,” Mayville said.
“Our current operations are limited in scope to protect US citizens and facilities, to protect US aircraft supporting humanitarian assistance, and to assist in the breakup of ISIL forces that have laid siege to the Sinjar Mountain,” he added.