On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. local time, the US continued its aerial campaign against Islamic State positions, striking a mortar setup in the area of Mt. Sinjar where over twenty-thousand Yazidis remain under siege by the jihadi terror group.
The US Navy and Air Force have been flying on average 90 ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) missions per day over Iraq since August 9, according to Bloomberg. Since the 8th, US forces have been authorized to attack Islamic State terror positions, including armored convoys and mortar positions. As of Tuesday morning the U.S. has hit 15 targets using a variety of aerial vehicles, including F-16, F-15, and F/A-18 fighter jets and Predator drone UAVs.
Army Lieutenant General William Mayville told reporters at the Pentagon that air power can only be so effective when it is the only resource with which US forces are authorized to engage the enemy. “We’ve had a very temporary effect, and we may have blunted some tactical decisions,” he said, while cautioning the airstrikes are still very limited in nature and have not advanced to a large enough scale to affect the enemy.
Secretary of State John Kerry was in Australia Tuesday for the annual Ausmin talks, where he reiterated that America would not utilize ground troops in Iraq. “There will be no reintroduction of American combat forces in Iraq. Nobody, I think, is looking forwards to a return to the road that we’ve traveled,” he said.
Prime Minister Nouri Maliki released a short statement Tuesday, saying that he had called off Iraqi forces he had originally drafted to address the political turmoil in Baghdad. The statement read, “Prime Minister Nouri Maliki calls for security personnel to stay away from the political crisis and continue their commitment to their duties in protecting the country.” Before Tuesday, Maliki had remained resilient in his protest against his ousting as prime minister, saying he would “fix the mistake.”
NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen said Monday that the US-led alliance network would defend Turkey if it came under fire from the Islamic State jihadis who have been waging holy war in Syria and Iraq.
Rasmussen told Reuters, “We are very much concerned about the activities of the so-called Islamic State, which is a bunch of terrorists, and it is of utmost importance to stop their advance. If any of our allies, and in this case of course particularly Turkey, were to be threatened from any source of threat, we won’t hesitate to take all steps necessary to ensure effective defense of Turkey or any other ally.”