As it happened: US launches air strikes against militants in Iraq

Key Points

  • US drones and aircraft have attacked Islamic State (IS) artillery, mortar positions and vehicle convoys, in defence of the city of Irbil
  • President Barack Obama authorised air strikes on Thursday, but says he will not send US troops back to Iraq
  • IS has seized Iraq's largest dam near its stronghold of Mosul. The group captured Iraq's biggest Christian town of Qaraqosh earlier this week
  • The UN says 50,000 refugees from the Yazidi community are trapped on Mount Sinjar
  • IS already controls swathes of northern Iraq and has advanced south towards Baghdad
  • All times GMT

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    Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of unfolding events in Iraq, where the US says it has launched an air strike targeting militants belonging to the Islamic State (IS) in the north of the country.

    John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary

    tweets: US military aircraft conduct strike on ISIL artillery. Artillery was used against Kurdish forces defending Erbil, near US personnel.


    The Pentagon said in a statement that two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery near the city of Irbil.

    IS militants were using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, defending Irbil, Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.


    Rear Admiral Kirby said the strike occurred at 13:45 local time in Irbil (10:45 GMT).


    Kurdish Peshmerga forces (seen in this photo) have been fighting off the advance of IS militants toward Irbil, the capital of Iraq's oil-rich Kurdish region.

    Kurdish peshmerga troops participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Makhmur, on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh 7 August 2014.

    The US bombing follows President Barack Obama's announcement on Thursday that he had authorised strikes against the IS group who has taken control of vast swathes of territory in northern Iraq and parts of neighbouring Syria.


    President Obama said he had authorised action due to fears of genocide, after thousands of members of the Yazidi minority were displaced by the IS advance.


    About 50,000 Yazidis have been trapped by IS militants on Mount Sinjar. The US has dropped food and water to the Yazidis who are facing starvation and dehydration.


    As many as 200,000 thousands civilians, including many members of the Yazidi sect, have fled the violence in Sinjar to Dohuk province, which is part of Iraqi Kurdistan.

    Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjarl west of Mosul, take refuge at Dohuk province, 7 August 2014.

    In an alert issued ahead of the US strike, the British Foreign Office advised UK nationals to "leave now" the provinces of Irbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk - all in the autonomous Kurdistan region - in the wake of attacks by IS.


    The BBC's Tom Esslemont, in Washington, says Mr Obama's decision to use the term "genocide" was hugely symbolic and potent for a president who a year ago decided against military intervention in Syria.


    "We thank Barack Obama,'' said Khalid Jamal Alber, an official for the semi-autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq, after the US gave the air strike order.


    IS rebels have been making serious gains this week, taking control of predominantly Christian areas in the north, including the key city of Qaraqosh.

    Islamic State militants stand guard after taking control of a government building in the Christian town of Bartella, Nineveh province - 7 August 2014
    Ned Parker, Baghdad Bureau Chief, Reuters

    tweets: White House action might be too little, too late. Not clear if they have comprehensive strategy or are working ad hoc #Iraq


    Who is the Islamic State, widely known as Isis? Our interactive video explains the group's rise and how it has managed to throw Iraq into a state of chaos, threatening to redefine the Middle East.


    The United Nations says it is preparing a humanitarian corridor following the US strike in Iraq, AFP reports.


    Meanwhile, Iraqi army chief of staff Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari says he anticipates "huge changes on the ground in the coming hours". He says he expects Iraqi and Kurdish troops to reclaim large parts of land.

    Lawand, Sulaymanyeh, Iraq

    I have come to visit my family in northern Iraq. The situation is extremely tense, everyone is affected. We are worried the Iraqi airline will stop operating from northern Iraq. The atmosphere is highly confusing. Some assume that the army have fled without alerting the people.


    More details are coming out on the UN's planned humanitarian corridor. It will "allow those in need to flee the areas under threat," the UN's top envoy in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said in a statement.


    Today's air strike is the first time the US has been directly involved in a military operation in Iraq since American troops withdrew in late 2011.


    But President Obama is going into this somewhat reluctantly, observes the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan in Washington. Remember this is the president who voted against the Iraq war in the first place and came into office promising to end America's involvement there, our correspondent notes.


    More from Rajini, who says one of the biggest concerns in America is when US military strikes on Iraq will stop if IS continues to make advances across the country.


    IS said in an earlier statement that it had seized Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam, near the city of Mosul. If confirmed, the militants will control enormous power and water resources, along with the Tigris river which runs through the heart of Baghdad.

    The Mosul dam on the Tigris River around 50 kilometres north of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, 31 October 2007.
    United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

    tweets: Iraq Sinjar crisis pushes number of confirmed displaced past one million


    In an interview with BBC World Service, Rwaa has described her terror as she fled the IS advance with her children and cousin Rayeeda from the Christian town of Qaraqosh:

    "They took everything from us, if we had stayed there, they would kill us, take us women, sell us and rape us over and over. They are monsters... What have we done wrong? We are beautiful people and we want to live here - this is our land. How can we stay here? We need protection."

    Kerry, Irbil

    emails: I am currently in Irbil visiting my husband's family. All we have been told by the [UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office] is to stay indoors, to not travel and to contact our airline to see if they can fly us home sooner. However the airline is fully booked for the next 8 days. We have 3 small children with us and although we are about 40 miles away from the air strikes/ fighting, it's scary to know there is a threat in what has been a very safe city for years.


    The US military used two F/A-18 aircraft, like the one pictured, in Friday's air strike on the militants' artillery piece near Irbil.

    US Marine F/A-18 Hornet jet

    Turkish Airlines announces it is cancelling all flights to Irbil until further notice due to security concerns, according to its spokesman on Twitter - via AFP.


    Turkey earlier said it would step up humanitarian aid to northern Iraq. "Five trucks carrying aid to Iraq have hit the road today and they will go through the Habur border crossing on Sunday," a senior official said. The trucks are carrying food, medicine, blankets and other basic goods, he added.


    Vian Dakhil, the only MP representing the Yazidi minority in Iraq's parliament, who collapsed after a tearful and feverish speech two days ago urging her government and international forces to help her people, has been speaking to BBC Newshour.


    She says there are tens of thousands trapped in the mountain, and that aid dropped by the Americans "was nowhere near enough," warning that "many of them could die tomorrow". Some 450 Yezidi women kidnapped by IS are to be sold which is another issue that needs to be addressed, she adds.


    Suddenly thrust into the limelight by their plight, the Yazidis will not welcome the glare of international attention, says author Diana Darke. On account of the group's unusual beliefs, they are often unjustly referred to as "devil worshippers", and have traditionally held themselves apart in small communities scattered across parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

    Candle Lighting – at a home "shrine" in Iraqi Kurdistan
    Christopher Whittle, Soran, Iraqi Kurdistan

    emails: I'm working as an English language teacher in the city of Soran which lies near the Iraqi Kurdish/Iranian border. Yesterday many Christian refugees affected by fighting further West arrived looking for safety in the Assyrian Christian churches here. There's been a noticeable mood shift here in the last few days and people seem much more on edge about the political situation than they were previously.


    French President Francois Hollande has offered to support efforts to "end civilian suffering" in Iraq, saying that France is "ready to take responsibility for our part".


    "The international community cannot ignore the threat represented by the advance of this terrorist group for the local population [and] the stability not only of Iraq, but of the whole region," President Hollande said in a statement.

    Charles Lister, Brookings Doha Center

    tweets: While some IS sources say US air strike targeted a largely unused arms depot, Kurds report more air strikes, this time in Sinjar. #Iraq

    World Food Programme

    tweets: Here's a video from northern #Iraq where @WFP provides food for families fleeing fighting.

    WFP workers distribute aid in Iraq


    Who are the minorities caught up in the violence in Iraq's Nineveh Plain? Christians, Turkmen, Yazidis, Shabak, Sabian Mandaeans, Bahais, Kakais and Faili Kurds have lived in Iraq for a very long time - some for centuries, others for thousands of years, says the BBC Monitoring's Mina al-Lami.


    Just in - America's flight aviation authority, the FAA, has banned all US airlines from flying over Iraq "due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict" between IS militants and the Iraqi security forces and their allies.


    Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq arrives in Najaf city, some 160km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, to check on Iraqis displaced by the violence.

    Iraqi deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq steps out of a car upon his arrival in the holy city of Najaf on 8August 2014,

    Members of the Yazidi community have been calling for international aid for several days to help the thousands who have been forced to flee their homes.

    A Yazidi girl carries a banner during a protest in front of the gate of the UN office in Erbil, northern Iraq, on 4 August 2014.
    Chris Kelly

    tweets: We already dropped 2 bombs on #ISIS/ISIL in #Iraq. Where are the region's other security forces? Other UN members? Why is it always the US?


    Strong words from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who says the IS militants' "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. For anyone who needed a wake-up call: this is it!" He was speaking on a visit to Afghanistan.


    The Washington Post has given details of how it thinks the F-18s targeted IS forces near Irbil on Friday. "F-18s are capable of designating targets with their own on-board lasers. The practice is known as 'self-lasing,' or 'buddy-lasing.' The latter term indicates that one of the aircrafts uses its laser to designate the target for its wingman," says writer Thomas Gibbons-Neff.


    Children from the Shabak minority - Shia Iraqi Kurds - have also suffered in the recent surge in fighting between Peshmerga troops and IS fighters. Some are pictured here, packed into the back of a truck on the road between Kirkuk and Irbil after fleeing near the northern city of Mosul on Friday.

    Shiite Iraqi Kurdish children displaced by fierce fighting sit in the back of a truck on the road between Kirkuk and Arbil on August 8, 2014.

    Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said that the forced exodus in northern Iraq was part of an "evil pattern" of Christians being "persecuted for their faith," AFP reports. The Church of England leader said Britain should open its doors to refugees fleeing the militant Islamic State advances.

    Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show, on 13 July 2014.

    RUSI analyst Michael Stephens is predicting US air strikes to be a "short-term measure" in Iraq, Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reports. They "are not designed to defeat IS and they are not designed to change the balance of power in Iraq or Syria," Mr Stephens told the broadcaster. "It is designed simply as a short-term measure to stop IS expanding into areas which are controlled by critical US allies," he added.


    More on civilian flight bans over Iraq... British Airways says it is continuing to fly through Iraqi airspace and that its position remains unchanged but is continuing to evaluate the routes it uses, according to BBC business news reporter Theo Leggett.


    The UK government has announced details of an £8m package of emergency humanitarian assistance to help people across northern and central Iraq who have fled IS militants. The funding includes £2m of emergency humanitarian supplies for 75,000 people, including aid that can be air dropped to help those trapped in the Sinjar Mountains.


    AP reporter Bram Janssen appears to be live tweeting a fresh US air strike near Peshmerga forces in Khazer on what he calls the "front line".

    "Peshmerga saying US plane is on it's way to #Khazer. Where we are now. Soldiers in front line told to get back hundreds of meters," he tweets.


    Iraqi soldiers distribute water to thirsty Shia Iraqi Kurds, displaced by fighting in the area of Bartala near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul

    Iraqi military personnel distribute water to Shia Iraqi Kurds, known as "Shabak" near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, on 8 August 2014.

    British Airways has just revised its position on flying over Iraqi airspace. The company said it was now "temporarily suspending" flights over Iraq and that it would keep the situation under review. Earlier, the airline had said it would continue to fly over Iraq - see 15:47


    On a visit to Afghanistan, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the world needed to wake up to the threat posed by the militant group, IS.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a press conference at the United Nations Compound in Kabul on 8 August 2014.

    Members of the Yazidi community have been hiding in caves for days, with nothing to eat or drink, one of them tells the BBC's Hadya Alalawi. "A lot of the people here have disabilities or suffer from serious illnesses like diabetes. It's 50C here and we're being bombarded indiscriminately," they add.

    16:14: Jiyar Gol, Irbil, BBC Persian

    Kurdish politicians and military commanders I've been speaking to all say they are expecting big things to happen soon. Most likely they have got assurances and promises from the Americans...They are very hopeful in the near future that they might be able to take back the lost territories. But so far we haven't seen any advance on the ground.


    A 27-year-old Iraqi taxi driver, Karwan Ahmed, told AFP news agency that people welcomed President Obama's decision to carry out air strikes. He said: "We were very nervous these past few days. Daash (Islamic State) is powerful and well-equipped. This [the US involvement] is good news."


    Security is heightened at a checkpoint manned by Kurdish Peshmerga forces at the entrance to Sulaimaniya province.

    Kurdish "peshmerga" troops stand guard during an intensive security deployment at the checkpoint at the entrance to Sulaimaniya province on 8 August 2014.

    "People resisting IS are going to be slaughtered if the group is not stopped and military strikes and humanitarian airlifts are appropriate under these circumstances," former US ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey tells BBC World TV. "This is an extraordinarily violent and brutal movement that reminds Americans of 9/11 that has to be stopped," he adds.

    Rudaw English

    tweets: BREAKING: Sources: #US fighter jets are striking #IS positions heavily in Shingal.

    16:33: UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening

    says: "The world has been horrified by the brutal persecution of vulnerable minority groups by IS. It is absolutely vital that the UN gets the access it needs and the British government is working with the international community to push for this."

    Bram Janssen, journalist

    tweets: "We counted six air strikes. We were standing at the Khazer checkpoint which thousands of refugees from #Mosul fled yesterday. #IS"


    Turkish Airlines, one of the key foreign carriers flying to Iraq, confirms it has halted flights to the main city of Iraq's Kurdish region for security reasons, AFP reports. "Our flights to Irbil are being cancelled for security reasons until further notice," the airline said in a statement.


    The US is returning reluctantly to the Iraqi frontline, and for good reason, says BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus. "President Obama came to office seeking to extricate the US from foreign wars, not to begin new ones - he remains convinced that Iraq's problems are fundamentally political," he said.


    Displaced people are seeking shelter from the violence in Sulaimaniya province.

    Displaced people, who fled from the violence in the province of Nineveh, arrive at Sulaimaniya province on 7 August 2014.

    An Islamic State fighter tells Reuters news agency that US air strikes would have "no impact on us". "The planes attack positions they think are strategic, but this is not how we operate. We are trained for guerrilla street war," he said.


    "God is with us and our promise is heaven. When we are promised heaven, do you think death will stop us?" the unnamed IS fighter is quoted as saying.

    16:54: Bram Janssen, journalist

    continues: "One bomb dropped in #Khazer, 100 meters from us. The rest into #IS territory. Hard to say where, but approx between 1-3 km from Khazer."


    An unnamed US official tells the BBC that IS fighters have taken control of Mosul Dam, seen as a huge setback for the Kurdish forces. Iraq's largest hydroelectric facility provides vast quantities of electricity and water to the IS-stronghold in the north of Iraq. The official said "we are extremely concerned by this development".


    Protesters took to the streets of London on Friday to call on the UK government to help the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq.

    Protesters in London call for help from the government for the Yazidi religious minority who have been forced to flee after attacks by Islamic State extremists in northern Iraq on 8 August 2014
    Theo Leggett, BBC business correspondent

    Under normal circumstances, aircraft frequently do fly through Iraqi airspace on routes to and from the Middle East. However, many carriers have recently chosen to divert their aircraft around the country for safety reasons, among them Air France, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic. The Federal Aviation Administration has now banned US airlines from flying through Iraqi airspace due to what it calls the "potentially hazardous situation" created by armed conflict in the region.


    White House spokesman Josh Earnest is now taking questions on the air strikes from reporters. He says the way fleeing minorities are stranded on Mount Sinjar is an "urgent humanitarian" situation.


    The US will support Kurdish forces trying to free those trapped at the top of the mountain, he said.


    Oil producer Genel Energy says it has begun evacuating non-essential staff from its sites in Iraqi Kurdistan.


    This threat can only be met and defeated by a unified Iraq, the White House spokesman added.


    Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position on the front line in Khazer, 40km (25 miles) west of Irbil - the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq

    Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position on the front line in Khazer, near the Kurdish checkpoint of Aski kalak, 40 km West of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on 8 August 2014.

    For those who've just joined us, here's a quick recap of Friday's developments in Iraq:

    • A US military air strike has targeted Islamist militants in a bid to stop their advance into Kurdish areas of Iraq
    • Militants from the Islamic State have seized control of Iraq's largest dam in Mosul


    • The US has air dropped emergency food aid to tens of thousands of refugees trapped on a remote mountainside in the north
    • US civilian flights have been banned from Iraqi air space due to the fighting in the region. British Airways has suspended flights for the same reason
    Charles Lister, Brookings Doha Center

    tweets: It goes w/o saying, these airstrikes need to be totally pinpoint. Civilian casualties will rapidly erode any hope of this isolating IS #Iraq


    Ali Khedery, who served as a key American adviser on Iraq from 2003, tells BBC News that air strikes are not a long-term solution to the situation. That requires "a national unity government formed with an entirely new platform of true power-sharing among all the Iraqis".


    When asked why the US was carrying out military strikes in Iraq but not in Syria, the White House spokesman said this time it was at the invitation of the Iraqi government. Also, the US has good intelligence and assets in Iraq, not in Syria.


    Who are the 50,000 people trapped on a mountainside in northern Iraq as a result of the IS advance? They belong to the secretive Yazidi sect who are often unjustly referred to as "devil worshippers," says author Diana Darke.

    Kurdish broadcaster Rudaw

    tweets: Rudaw correspondent: #PKK guerrillas are advancing towards center of Makhmur, but Peshmerga has no orders to join...


    One of the first agency pictures showing the aftermath of the US military strike near Irbil, taken from Associated Press news agency footage.

    Screen grab of AP video shows smoke rising from airstrikes targeting IS militants near the Khazer checkpoint outside of the city of Irbil in northern Iraq, on 8 August 2014.

    There's no specific end date for US military strikes in Iraq, says the White House spokesman, because this depends on the security situation on the ground.


    Asked why the US waited until now to act, the White House spokesman says there are three reasons.


    These are, he says, the "deeply disturbing" reports of the humanitarian crisis, the threats to Americans in Irbil and finally the progress the Iraqis have made in forming a unity government.


    "I'm here sitting in my car now and my father is sitting in the shade. We've been sitting here since this morning and we haven't had anything to eat, only water. We haven't even had a piece of bread. There is no water," a Yazidi, who is sheltering in the mountains with his father, tells the BBC.


    "There are some water pumps down near the main road but we can only go there after we've checked that there is no-one around. If we see any movement of a car or a vehicle nearby, we are not able to go down for water," says Ali Herfot, speaking to BBC World Have Your Say.


    More images showing plumes of smoke rising in the sky after the US air strike near the Khazer checkpoint, outside the city of Irbil.

    An armoured vehicle belonging to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters rushes to the site of an air strike near the Khazer checkpoint outside of the city of Irbil in northern Iraq, on 8 August 2014.
    Screen grab from AP video shows smoke rising from air strikes targeting Islamic State militants near the Khazer checkpoint outside of the city of Irbil in northern Iraq, on 8 August 2014

    For the first time, the Islamists in Iraq have come under direct attack, diplomatic correspondent James Robbins reports in this video.


    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier voices his support for US air strikes.

    He tells Reuters news agency: "In the short term air strikes seem to be the only way to prevent an advance by IS and to open up escape's a matter of preventing genocide."

    UN Refugee Agency

    tweets: Iraq: We're supporting the govt in establishing camps, but as front lines continue to shift, sites can quickly become insecure


    "Foreign visitors to the city enjoyed freedoms unthinkable in other parts of the country," says the BBC's Neil Arun, as he considers the significance of the northern city of Irbil.


    Kurdish Peshmerga forces take cover during US air strikes in northern Iraq.

    Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take cover during US airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants near the Khazer checkpoint outside of the city of Irbil in northern Iraq, on 8 August 2014

    The US media has been reflecting on President Obama's relationship with Iraq and the possible political implications of a return to military action there.


    Islamic State fighters pose an existential threat to the Kurds, says Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

    He warned that IS was mobilising its forces in Iraq and Syria in preparation for a major attack on the Kurds.

    Wall Street Journal

    tweets: Iraq move is a policy reversal for President Obama, who campaigned on ending the U.S. war with Iraq.


    Meanwhile, Pope Francis is sending a personal envoy to Iraq in a show of solidarity with the Christians who have been forced from their homes. Cardinal Fernando Filoni says he will offer spiritual help to those displaced by the violence, AP reports.

    Hayder al-Khoei, Chatham House

    tweets: Iraqi official tells me special forces in Baiji have rigged refinery facilities with explosives. If they lose it, ISIS won't have it either.


    tweets: BREAKING: Iraqi official says hundreds of Yazidi women taken captive by Islamic State militants.


    News agency AFP in Baghdad is reporting the Kurdish presidency's chief of staff as saying the fighting over the last two months has left 150 Kurdish fighters dead and around 500 wounded.

    19:28: Elijah J Magnier, chief international correspondent, Al Rai

    tweets: #IS is a mobile force, don't hold territories. #IS attacks sensitive areas, dam, oilfields.Part of its strategy 2control vital places".


    More details on the reported kidnapping of the Yazidi women: AP quotes the spokesman for Iraq's human rights ministry, Kamil Amin, as saying hundreds below the age of 35 are being held in schools in Mosul by militants from the Islamic State group.


    The BBC's Tom Esslemont in Washington reports White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said US action in Iraq will not take the form of prolonged combat. Mr Earnest said the US knew from experience the limit of its involvement in the country - and that the situation could only solved by the Iraqi people.


    AP is now reporting the US has launched a second round of air strikes on targets near Irbil.


    To recap - The US is striking Islamic State targets near Irbil, where US military and diplomatic personnel are stationed. President Barack Obama said on Thursday night he had authorised the strikes both to protect US personnel and to assist the Iraqi military in preventing massacres against the Yazidis and other minority groups.


    CBS News national security correspondent David Martin is reporting IS casualties from the latest round of airstrikes around Irbil.

    19:56: Vaughn Sterling, CNN

    tweets: CNN: ISIS militants may be less than 20 miles from Irbil, Iraq -Governor of Irbil to @IvanCNN


    Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm John Kirby confirms two additional air strikes on IS near Irbil, "to help defend the city where US personnel are assisting the government of Iraq".


    Adm John Kirby says that shortly after 17:00 local time in Iraq (14:00 GMT), a US drone twice struck an IS mortar position, and IS fighters were "successfully eliminated".


    In addition, Adm Kirby added that at about 18:20 local time in Iraq, four F/A-18 aircraft struck a stationary IS convoy of seven vehicles and a mortar position near Irbil.


    Adm Kirby continues, "The aircraft executed two planned passes. On both runs, each aircraft dropped one laser guided bomb making a total of eight bombs dropped on target neutralising the mortar and convoy."


    President Obama spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan today, the White House says. The two discussed the urgency of providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq, the risk from IS and other extremist groups, and the importance of supporting an inclusive Iraqi political process, according to the White House.


    Prof Richard Kaufman from the University of Arkansas tells BBC Newshour that Mosul Dam could collapse if it is not properly maintained, submerging the city of Mosul under 30m of water and, further downstream, Baghdad under 5m of water. IS now has control of the dam and it is not clear if they are maintaining it.

    20:31: Jane Arraf, journalist

    tweets: #Iraqi foreign minister Zebari thanks US: 'We never lost hope in our friends that they would come through when circumstances were right'

    21:00: The Telegraph

    tweets: Saturday's Daily Telegraph front page: 'Britain considers air strikes to avert genocide in Iraq'


    At the White House, the BBC's David Willis reports, "The president hasn't given a timetable for this intervention, saying it will be determined by events on the ground."


    Our correspondent reports, "Privately, officials say they are concerned about how well trained and well armed these Islamist militants are."

    21:10: @Hevallo

    tweets: Very emotional demo outside Downing Street. Many relatives of people from Sinjar with ghastly stories. #TwitterKurds

    Kurdish protest outside Downing Street
    21:19: Rudaw English

    tweets: BREAKING: #US fighter jets are pounding #IS positions near Tuz Khurmatu.


    Former US diplomat Peter Galbraith tells the BBC World Tonight, "I think [military action] is hugely significant."


    Former United Nations Under Secretary General Lord Malloch-Brown tells BBC World Tonight, "If the situation doesn't stabilise then a humanitarian corridor is a possibility."


    This concludes our live online coverage of the US air strikes in Iraq. Thank you for reading and please continue to follow our reports on any developments in this story on the BBC website or on radio and television broadcasts on the air where you live.


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