The United States has intensified its airstrikes on Islamist militants in northern Iraq.
Extremists from the Islamic State group are now just 30 minutes drive away from the Kurdish capital, Arbil.
Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iraqi soldiers are co-operating to try to halt their advance on the ground but it is US firepower from the air that could make a real difference.
The Sunni Muslim militants have swept through northern Iraq since June, seizing broad swathes of territory.
In the past week, the group, notorious for beheading or shooting anyone who defies them, has routed Kurdish forces and forced religious minorities to flee.
They have also seized control of Iraq’s biggest dam, which could allow them to flood cities and cut off vital water and electricity supplies.
The Pentagon says fighter jets from an aircraft carrier in the Gulf dropped laser-guided 500-pound bombs on militants’ artillery. Other airstrikes targeted mortar positions and an Islamic State convoy. The US has also begun dropping relief supplies to fleeing refugees.
President Obama said Washington must act to protect Americans in Iraq and to prevent a “genocide”.
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