US Launches Airstrikes on Iraq Militants American jets hit Islamic State artillery near Irbil By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff Posted Aug 8, 2014 8:20 AM CDT Updated Aug 8, 2014 9:55 AM CDT 177 comments Comments This file photo shows a US Marine F/A-18 Hornet jet, used in the airstrikes. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez) (Newser) – The US launched airstrikes against Iraq's Islamic State militants this morning. "US military aircraft conduct strike on ISIL artillery," tweeted Rear Adm. John Kirby. "Artillery was used against Kurdish forces defending (Irbil), near US personnel." He confirms that F/A-18 jets dropped a pair of laser-guided 500-pound bombs on militants towing artillery at about 6:45am Eastern, reports the AP. US military trainers are stationed nearby. More: The F/A-18s were based on the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf and took off on the orders of the commander of US Central Command, CNN reports. (President Obama authorized airstrikes last night.) It's unclear how many militants were killed in the strikes. John Kerry, speaking today in Afghanistan, echoed Obama's language, saying the Islamic State's "campaign of terror against the innocent, including the Yazidi and Christian minorities, and its grotesque targeted acts of violence show all the warning signs of genocide." Meanwhile, the AP reports that Iraqi and Kurdish officials are welcoming last night's humanitarian aid drops for Iraqis trapped by the militants in the mountains. "We thank Barack Obama," said one Kurdish official in northern Iraq, while a rep for the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement said the drops were "just in time."