The US Navy has carried out an air strike on Islamic militants in Iraq, mere hours after President Barack Obama authorised US forces to conduct aerial attacks in the region.

Two of the USN’s Boeing F/A-18E/F Hornets dropped 226kg (500lb) laser-guided bombs on a “mobile artillery piece” near Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm John Kirby says.

The strike was carried out at 06:45EDT on 8 August against an artillery piece being used by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group. The group was aiming to shell Kurdish forces defending the city, where US personnel are also located.

The Super Hornets were operating from the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier, which is deployed in the Arabian Gulf.

F-18 USS G Bush Gulf NAVAIR FS

US Naval Air Systems Command

Obama announced on 7 August he was authorising the use of airborne force against ISIL – a terrorist organisation occupying areas of Iraq and Syria to an extreme Islamic agenda.

Particular emphasis was made by the president on the importance of protecting US personnel who are working with the Iraqi authorities in the region.

The decision to authorise an air strike was made by army Gen Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command, under authorisation granted him by Obama, Kirby says.

“As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities,” he adds.