The use of drones in U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIL) militant group in Iraq appeared to be rapidly scaling up on Friday after the Pentagon confirmed that it had conducted two additional attacks to help defend the besieged city of Erbil.
In a statement Pentagon Spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby said that shortly after 10 a.m. EDT, “remotely piloted aircraft struck a terrorist mortar position.”
He added that when ISIL fighters returned to the site moments later, they were attacked again and “successfully eliminated.”
In a second incident, approximately an hour later, four F/A-18 aircraft “successfully struck a stationary ISIL convoy of seven vehicles and a mortar position near Erbil,” Admiral Kirby noted.
The aircraft executed two planned passes, dropping one laser guided bomb on each run and bringing to eight the total number dropped on this target, “neutralising the mortar and convoy,” he said.
U.S. personnel were said to be assisting the Government of Iraq in Erbil, a city facing an imminent threat from the advancing forces of ISIL.