Airstrikes Continue in Iraq

The Defense Department is trying to assess the validity of a video released Tuesday in which the a member of the terrorist organization ISIS apparently beheaded freelance American journalist Steven Sotloff, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday. The hooded man in the video appeared to be the same British-accented terrorist who killed American photojournalist James Foley last month. The US has stepped up air strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq even though ISIS had threatened to kill American hostages such as Sotloff and Foley if the airstrikes did not stop. President Barack Obama on Aug. 28 authorized the US military to “conduct targeted airstrikes in support of an operation to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the town of Amirli, Iraq, which is surrounded and beseiged by ISIL,” according to a Sept. 1 letter from the President. Those strikes began on Aug. 30. “These additional operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli,” reads the letter. Kirby said US airstrikes allowed Iraqi and Kurdish forces to break the ISIS siege of the Shiite town. He rejected the complaint of a lack of strategy to confront the terrorist threats, pointing to the many counter-terrorist strikes even before the on-going attacks in Iraq. US Central Command has conducted 120 airstrikes across Iraq since early August. Of those, four have been in support of Amirli; 23 airstrikes have been against ISIS forces around Erbil in northern Iraq; 13 have been in support of Sinjar, where the Yazidi refugees were stranded; and 80 strikes have been in the region of the Mosul Dam, according to a CENTCOM release.