According to Pentagon officials, Wednesday saw the first airstrikes by U.S. warplanes on the city Tikrit in response to requested assistance by the Iraqi government — in an attempt to retake the city held by ISIS.
While Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren didn’t express explicitly in a statement that United States aircraft were involved in the attacks, another anonymous official did indeed confirm U.S. participation.
For weeks, the Pentagon had been hesitant to get involved in the quest for the mostly-Sunni Muslim city due to the fact that thousands of Shiite militiamen and “at least” one commander from Shiite Iran were already there and “reprisal attacks” could have ensued.
“These strikes are intended to destroy [ISIS] strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimizing collateral damage to infrastructure,” Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, who commands the coalition of countries conducting airstrikes against the militants.
In addition to the warplanes, about 30,000 Iraqi government troops and Iran-backed militiamen — supported by Sunni tribesman — are dug in for control of Tikrit.