U.S. steps up air strikes on militants in Iraq

Aug 08, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
KHAZAIR, IRAQ - JULY 03: Tents are viewed at the Khazair camp where Iraqi's who have fled recent fighting near the city of Mosul are being housed in a temporary displacement camp on July 3, 2014 in Khazair, Iraq. The displacement camp Khazair is now home to an estimated 1,500 internally displaced persons (IDP's) with the number rising daily. Tens of thousands of people have fled Iraq's second largest city of Mosul after it was overrun by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants. Many have been tempo
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The Pentagon confirmed that U.S. forces launched two additional airstrikes against ISIS militants in northern Iraq with fighter jets and drones targeting areas outside the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil. 

According to the BBC:

In the second wave of strikes, US drones destroyed a mortar position and killed a group of militants, the Pentagon said.
Then just over an hour later, F/A-18 jets used laser-guided bombs to hit a seven-vehicle convoy of IS vehicles, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
Earlier on Friday, two 500-pound (227kg) bombs were dropped on IS artillery, which was being used against Kurdish forces defending Irbil.
In taking stock of the Obama administration's initial reluctance to pursue military intervention, the Washington Post notes:
President Obama’s decision Friday to launch airstrikes in Iraq reflected an important shift for a president who had spent months making the case for how the United States could achieve its foreign policy objectives without the use of force. His conclusion: Sometimes there is no substitute for military might.
Both Obama and his top aides have emphasized that any bombing in Iraq where tens of thousands of Yazidis are trapped and surrounded by Islamist militants, who also threaten American diplomats in the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil, is limited in scope. But it reflects a return to his response to the crisis in Libya three years ago, marking a departure from the foreign policy approach the administration has espoused for much of its second term.

Meanwhile, Kurds are rushing to buy arms over fears of infiltration by ISIS militants, as Reuters reports:

Spared a decade of sectarian conflict in the rest of Iraq, Kurds in Arbil were stocking up on weapons on Friday and keeping a wary eye on their Arab neighbours as they faced what a senior official called "an existential threat" from the Islamic State.
"People in Arbil are quitting their jobs and coming to buy weapons so they can go to fight," said Alan, a 35-year-old gun merchant, who worked in a pizza shop during 12 years in the United Kingdom.
He sold 45 guns on Thursday alone, fetching $1,300 for an assault rifle that used to cost $700.