U.S. Strikes Islamic State Targets Near Baghdad in Expanded Iraq Campaign

New phase in U.S. mission extends beyond protecting American interests and Iraqi refugees to provide backup for Iraqi forces as they go on the offense, military says.

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A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells towards Zummar, controlled by Islamic State (IS), near Mosul September 15, 2014.
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells towards Zummar, controlled by Islamic State (IS), near Mosul September 15, 2014. Credit: Reuters

The U.S. military struck an Islamic State target southwest of Baghdad, U.S. Central Command said on Monday, in an expansion of the Obama administration's campaign against the militant group that has seized large swaths of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

"The airstrike southwest of Baghdad was the first strike taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit [Islamic State] targets as Iraqi forces go on offense," Central Command said in a statement.

U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the strikes came as a response to a request from Iraqi forces that had come under fire from militants.

Previous U.S. airstrikes in Iraq were conducted to protect U.S. interests and personnel, assist Iraqi refugees and secure critical infrastructure.

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