WASHINGTON — United States military aircraft on Thursday dropped food and water to thousands of Iraqis beseiged by Islamic militants on a mountain top in northern Iraq, according to a senior Pentagon official.
The military made the announcement after the planes had delivered the supplies and left the area. President Obama was scheduled to discuss the mission in a televised address Thursday night.
Kurdish and Iraqi officials said Thursday night that airstrikes had begun on towns in northern Iraq seized by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but Pentagon officials firmly denied that American forces had begun a bombing campaign. They said it was possible that allies of the United States, either the Iraqi or Turkish militaries, had conducted the bombing.
Kurdish officials said the bombings had initially targeted ISIS fighters who had seized two towns, Gwer and Mahmour, near the main Kurdish city of Erbil.
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Administration officials said that Mr. Obama was considering airstrikes on ISIS targets in northern Iraq that would be aimed at preventing the fall of Erbil, as the Islamic militants continued to press advances. Such a move would involve the United States in a significant battlefield role in Iraq for the first time since the last American combat soldier left at the end of 2011.