IsisREUTERS/StringerFighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) celebrate on vehicles taken from Iraqi security forces, at a street in city of Mosul, June 12, 2014.

A U.S. military aircraft conducted a strike in Iraq against artillery held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL), Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby wrote on Twitter Friday morning.

“U.S. military aircraft conduct strike on ISIL artillery. Artillery was used against Kurdish forces defending Erbil, near U.S. personnel,” Kirby wrote.

President Barack Obama said in a statement from the White House Thursday night that he had authorised the use of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq to protect threatened American personnel and help Iraqi forces in the country’s Kurdish region. He emphasised any airstrikes would be part of a targeted, limited campaign.

Kirby said in a statement that the operation was conducted at approximately 6:45 a.m. ET. Two F-18 fighter aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near the Kurdish capital of Erbil. The decision to strike was made by the U.S. Central Command commander in Iraq under the authorization granted by Obama.

“As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities,” Kirby said.

The strikes marked a return to U.S. military engagement in Iraq, three years after Obama pulled out remaining U.S. forces from what had been an eight-year war began under President George W. Bush. Obama is the fourth consecutive U.S. president to authorise military action in Iraq.

Obama said Thursday night that he authorised targeted air strikes to protect U.S. personnel if militants move on the town of Erbil or the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where Americans are currently stationed. He also directed the U.S. military to provide humanitarian aid to Iraqis who are part of the Yazidi religious sect and other religious minorities.

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