Iraq crisis: Islamic State weakened by US airstrikes, claims Pentagon
But the department warned the group are still potent
US airstrikes in Iraq last week have slowed the advance of Islamic State militant group, the Pentagon said on Monday.
But the department added its strikes were unlikely to substantially weaken the al-Qa'ida offshoot formerly known as Isis, which swept into northern Iraq in a stunning advance in June.
"We assess that US airstrikes in northern Iraq have slowed ISIL's [Isis] operational tempo and temporarily disrupted their advances toward the province of Arbil which includes the capital of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region", said Army Lieutenant General William Mayville Jr., a senior Pentagon official.
"However, these strikes are unlikely to affect ISIL's overall capabilities or its operations in other areas of Iraq and Syria," Mayville told reporters at the Pentagon.
Read more: New Iraqi PM named, but Nouri al Maliki refuses to stand down without a fight
Obama and Cameron’s response to the nightmare of Iraq is an incoherent mess
Thousands of exhausted Yazidis flee mount Sinjar
Last week, the White House said it would carry out airstrikes in Iraq in an attempt to protect its personnel working in the Kurdish city of Arbil, and to ensure that northern Iraq's minority Yazidis were not subject to systematic violence at the hands of the extremist Sunni militants.
Video: 'only Iraqis can ensure the safety and stability of Iraq'
But Mayville added the Islamic State, was still a threat. "[The group] remains focused on securing and gaining additional territory throughout Iraq and will sustain its attacks against Iraqi and Kurdish security forces and their positions, as well as target Yazidis, Christians, and other minorities," he said.
The 15 airstrikes carried out so far are the first direct US military action in Iraq since the Obama administration completed its withdrawal of US troops at the end of 2011 - hoping to mark an end to the long, bloody US military involvement in the country.
Read more: Militants 'bury women and children alive'
Critics line up to lambast 'weak' Obama response
West's 'mandate' over Iraq crisis limited by national borders
Futher deepening US military involvement in Iraq, US government sources announced in a separate statement on Monday that it would be directly supplying weapons to Peshmerga forces from Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdish region.
Peshmerga personnel have been battling to stem advances by Islamic State militants, after the group stormed Iraq’s second city, Mosul, on 10 June, causing the Iraqi army to flee.
The officials declined to specify when the supply program began or what sort of arms it included.
The US announcements came as Iraq’s new President appointed Haider al-Abadi as the Prime Minister, making it unlikely that Nouri al Maliki will serve a third term in the position. It is now feared the change will raise the possibility of civil conflict in Baghdad.
Additional reporting by agencies
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
Asteroid narrowly scrapes past Earth: how to watch the closest space rock for decades as it flies by
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
- 5 SAG Awards: Fake applause track interrupts Reese Witherspoon
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...
£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...