The Pentagon is prepared to conduct more air strikes against Islamic fighters in Iraq, if necessary, this time possibly in Baghdad, where hundreds of U.S. personnel are working.
“I can’t tell you that, ‘Yes, there will be another strike’ or when that will be, but we’ve got the authorization to do it,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told CNN on Friday, after President Barack Obama ordered a targeted air strike on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters in a “mobile artillery piece.”
“We are more than prepared, more than ready to execute that mission,” he said.
Kirby said Friday’s early morning air strike was carried out “to great success.”
“We know we hit the artillery piece and the truck that was towing it,” he said. ISIL fighters had been attacking Irbil with artillery piece, he said, “very close to where our people are serving right now.”
Kirby, who is traveling with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in India, was asked by CNN about a recent statement made by an ISIL spokesman, egging on the U.S. military. “Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah at the White House.”
To that, Kirby replied, “Real men don’t behead and abuse and kill children and innocent people who are just simply trying to live a peaceful life.”
He said ISIL was “a destabilizing threat” to Iraq and to the region, and that the U.S. military stands ready to conduct further missions against them to support the Iraqis and Kurds and protect American personnel and facilities in Iraq.