As it happened: US launches air strikes against militants in Iraq

Key points

  • US drones and aircraft have attacked Islamic State (IS) artillery, mortar positions and vehicle convoys, in defence of the city of Irbil
  • President Barack Obama authorised air strikes on Thursday, but says he will not send US troops back to Iraq
  • IS has seized Iraq's largest dam near its stronghold of Mosul. The group captured Iraq's biggest Christian town of Qaraqosh earlier this week
  • The UN says 50,000 refugees from the Yazidi community are trapped on Mount Sinjar
  • IS already controls swathes of northern Iraq and has advanced south towards Baghdad
  • All times GMT

Live text

Reporting:

  • Helen Dafedjaiye 
  • Tom Geoghegan 
  • Sarah Fowler 
  • Nina Lamparski 
  • Dominic Howell 

STANDARD 13:29

Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of unfolding events in Iraq, where the US says it has launched an air strike targeting militants belonging to the Islamic State (IS) in the north of the country.

TWEET

John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary

tweets: US military aircraft conduct strike on ISIL artillery. Artillery was used against Kurdish forces defending Erbil, near US personnel.

STANDARD 13:31

The Pentagon said in a statement that two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery near the city of Irbil.

IS militants were using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, defending Irbil, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

STANDARD 13:33

Rear Admiral Kirby said the strike occurred at 13:45 local time in Irbil (10:45 GMT).

STANDARD 13:37

Kurdish Peshmerga forces (seen in this photo) have been fighting off the advance of IS militants toward Irbil, the capital of Iraq's oil-rich Kurdish region.

Kurdish peshmerga troops participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Makhmur, on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh 7 August 2014.

STANDARD 13:41

The US bombing follows President Barack Obama's announcement on Thursday that he had authorised strikes against the IS group who has taken control of vast swathes of territory in northern Iraq and parts of neighbouring Syria.

STANDARD 13:44

President Obama said he had authorised action due to fears of genocide, after thousands of members of the Yazidi minority were displaced by the IS advance.

STANDARD 13:51

About 50,000 Yazidis have been trapped by IS militants on Mount Sinjar. The US has dropped food and water to the Yazidis who are facing starvation and dehydration.

STANDARD 13:52

As many as 200,000 thousands civilians, including many members of the Yazidi sect, have fled the violence in Sinjar to Dohuk province, which is part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjarl west of Mosul, take refuge at Dohuk province, 7 August 2014.

STANDARD 13:53

In an alert issued ahead of the US strike, the British Foreign Office advised UK nationals to "leave now" the provinces of Irbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk - all in the autonomous Kurdistan region - in the wake of attacks by IS.