World News

U.S. conducts five more airstrikes in Syria, Iraq against Islamic State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States military on Wednesday confirmed it had launched five more airstrikes targeting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in the latest round of attacks on the militant group.

One strike hit Syria northwest of the Iraqi city of Al Qa’im, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. Two strikes hit were west of Baghdad and two southeast of Irbil in Iraq.

The latest strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday destroyed two Islamic State armed vehicles, eight other vehicles, a weapons cache and fighting positions, the statement said.

Various attack, bomber and fighter aircraft were used in the airstrikes and all aircraft were able to leave the area safely, according to the statement.

While the United States has launched nearly 200 strikes in Iraq in recent weeks, this week’s campaign opens a new front in Syria and thrusts Washington into the country’s 3-year-old civil war. The first strikes in Syria were carried out with help of five Arab nations.

So far, 20 airstrikes have been launched across Syria targeting Islamic State, Central Command said.

U.S. officials on Tuesday had said the strikes were effective and on Wednesday Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said it was still completing its overnight assessment.

“Everything we said yesterday is bearing out today,” he said in a CNN interview. “We do believe that the battle damage assessment that we’ve conducted shows that these strikes were extremely successful in terms of hitting what we were aiming at and causing the damage that we wanted to cause.”

(This story clarifies that Al Qa’im is in Iraq)

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott