Pentagon Confirms F-18 Jet Airstrikes in Iraq

U.S. Navy planes dropped 500-pound, laser-guided bombs on the militant group ISIS.
10:36 | 08/08/14

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Transcript for Pentagon Confirms F-18 Jet Airstrikes in Iraq
The US is back -- offensive today in Iraq -- -- early this morning that two. F eighteen jets. Dropped 500 pound laser guided bombs on a terrorist group crisis. Strikes are meant to stop the Sunni extremists taking over a city in Northern Iraq the Pentagon. In these -- the first of what's expected to be a series of America attacks present a problem authorizing those airstrikes yesterday but saying there will be no US boots. On the ground. But when I'm down Cutler -- New York President Obama also authorizes much you emergency aid to be delivered. He said the US is acting project to protect American personnel and prevent a humanitarian crisis Iraq Iraqi soldiers passing out -- food. In the water and members of an ancient religious -- about 50000 of them have children. Are trapped in the mountains of Northern Iraq they fled their homes after ice has issued an ultimatum convert to Islam they -- religious tax. Or face death. He's -- -- ours has more from Washington on the developing story Karen. Good afternoon Dan President Obama said last night that if -- -- extremists threaten Americans the US would take action in this morning that is exactly what the military did with those targeted airstrikes. President Obama now becomes the fourth consecutive US president to order military action in Iraq. At approximately 645. US military struck -- is targets in Northern Iraq. Two FA eighteen aircraft dropped 500 pound laser guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near -- The Pentagon says that ice is was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces near where US personnel are located. -- this -- targeted strike that President Obama last night vowed to take if necessary. We intend to stay vigilant. And take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in the -- a dire humanitarian crisis is developing in Northern Iraq. Thousands of families have fled to the top of the mountain to escape the threat of ice is militants below now -- trapped in a blistering heat. No water no food. People are dying. Last night the US launched a challenging and dangerous aid mission. Three US air force cargo jets escorted by F eighteen fighter jets -- critical supplies 5300 gallons of water. 8000 meals ready to eat we can act carefully and responsibly to prevent a potential act of genocide. That's what we're -- on that Mountain View President Obama came into the white house with a pledge to end the US involvement in the war in Iraq. He did in 2011. Last night he made the American people another promise I will not allow the United States be dragged into fighting. Another war in Iraq. President Obama also said he understands American concerns about military action in Iraq even targeted strikes like the ones this morning. But he also said that American combat troops will not be returning to battle there Dan. Contreras -- in Washington Karen thank you bet. -- want to bring an ABC's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl standing by John the president authorizing the strikes yesterday the first 1 coming this morning. But -- the president -- it is not going to be approving every strike directly is that correct. That's right the way it's been described to me is when the president made that authorization last night. Which of course was before any military strikes happened only the humanitarian mission -- happened at that point. He was giving the military a green light. To go after spices. If it makes any move towards Mosul -- excuse me any move towards -- or any move towards Baghdad. And also that would be necessary. To go after those that are that have that that area under about mountain -- under siege. So this strike that we saw today which was of an artillery piece outside of for -- that actual action was not individually approved by the president it was the military had the green light to do it. The reason why they did it is because that piece of artillery was firing on Kurdish customer -- -- forces there were defending. The the city of her -- and if they had overtaken opposition. They -- -- straight path went right into the city so this the president didn't specifically approve that strike but he certainly approved. The overall action here as you put -- those humanitarian aid drops that are taking place as well talk to a little bit John about the dire and is that that the the the emergency -- almost the White House is taking for those ethnic you see these Christians in Iraq. Well it's it's quite a dramatic situation and it's. It's a situation that is that is what happened very quickly over the last several days you have a series of Christian towns. In in Northern Iraq that have been. Essentially overrun. By a crisis the that they're Christians in those towns have been told. That they will either face execution -- they must leave. And it must convert to is long and spend and there's even been evidence that when a conversion -- happen if it's been followed by beheading. So really actually gruesome our situation and have the use city -- city. Minority group. It has been stuck on this mountain top. Because they've they have fled their homes they have fled their their their area because they've been just forced out by -- And they are on this mountain tops around that unable to get down. Without food without water it's the desert situation extremely hot. And already. -- many had been believed to be dying -- -- number we don't know that are up there but estimates as high as 40000. Us this was seen is an absolute. Dire emergency. An emerging -- catastrophe. That needed to be dealt with immediately which is why you -- very quick action yesterday by the US military. And as far as Americans in their region their eyes as I know advancing towards the city ever feel that you pointed out there is there any plans during discussions at this point to get Americans out of that area. No we are told there are no evacuation plans right now it's fascinating because you have a consulate -- -- -- US consulate in that city. -- over -- -- is the capital of of Kurdistan and was seen is by far the most stable and prosperous part of Iraq one that's been largely free. Of the ethnic violence. That we've seen throughout the rest of the country Kurdistan has been seen him as a peak of stability a beacon of stability so much so. That when you saw ice is doing its advanced over the last couple of months back in June. The administration ordered a partial evacuation of our Baghdad embassy just draw down of of the number of people in Baghdad. And many of those diplomats US diplomats that were stationed at the Baghdad embassy were actually sent -- -- -- Because it was seen as as a much safer place to work. Now you have a situation where they are there and and the administration won't be about the exact numbers but I'm sure it's more than a hundred diplomats working out of that consulate. That they could be directly threatened by this action of -- -- actually going into what had been considered. The safest and and most stable part of Iraq John. If you can't -- about just how cautious how measured the president was in his work choice making announcements yesterday. Well first a larger context -- this is a president. Who is deeply reluctant to use US military force he's done in the past certainly you've seen it with. The drone operations that he has taken in in Pakistan and Yemen he saw it in the coalition efforts such overthrow -- in Libya. But he has been extremely reluctant to use US military force. Likes to use it only in coalition with the with with an international mandate -- other countries. This was the case -- the US was forced to act alone it was -- a decision that president was highly reluctant to make. And in announcing that decision. He wanted to be crystal clear that this was a limited military operation. Specifically. Targeted. To relieve a specific humanitarian crisis on one hand. And to protect US military and diplomatic personnel on the other hand he made it clear there will be roper boots on the ground. This is not part of a larger mission he's not trying to defeat ice this -- this. It is narrowly defined. And it and something -- will not he promised. The you know turning -- do -- mission creep into a greater US military operation. In Iraq less that John -- ask you about this measure of the confidence level by the way outs for the Iraqi Government -- situation. Will the White House and the administration's been had almost no confidence in in the Iraqi Government going into this the the government of analogy. Is really been seen -- the problem here creating the conditions were crisis was able to. A -- so much power and move so quickly because ice lost confidence. Of all but his own -- -- -- -- all but his own. You know she has sacked. But now you have a situation -- elections in the spring in Iraq. And they still haven't formed the coalition government coming out of those elections but -- getting close to doing that so there is more confidence now than there was. A month ago certainly. In the emerging Iraqi Government -- seems to be a consensus. In Iraq a political consensus. -- Muriel Maliki. Is not the right prime minister for Iraq and he's all but certain to be replaced. Should that happen if that happens and administration officials are costs are are are cautiously optimistic it'll happen within the coming week -- so. -- you get a new prime minister Iraq. You already have a new president a new speaker of the of the house following those elections. There is they believe a little bit more hope that this will be an inclusive Iraqi Government to look. Iraq's had. You know horribly dysfunctional governments. You know certainly you know ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein so -- this is cautious optimism at best. And and complicated to say the very least about that situation ABC's chief White House correspondent Jon Karl at the White House John thanks so much appreciate that. Think -- of course you can keep up with the story in real time by downloading ABC news App Store the store for exclusive updates on the go. -- -- -- -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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