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Apache Helicopter Used For First Time To Hit Islamic State In Iraq

U.S. Apache helicopters have struck an Islamic State target for the first time in Iraq, the Pentagon said on June 13.

The sophisticated attack choppers destroyed an IS car bomb near Qayyarah, which is about 50 miles south of Mosul, the group's main stronghold in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaking in Brussels, said the strike was in support of a campaign by Iraqi forces to encircle and eventually retake Mosul.

"The government of Iraq approved the use of Apaches in support of [Iraqi Security Forces] operations," Defense Department spokesman Christopher Sherwood said.

Carter has since early December made it clear to the Iraqi government that the U.S. military is willing to use its Apaches based in Iraq to support local forces.

But the government had until now declined. U.S. officials say this is because Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi didn't want to anger Shi'ite militias, who oppose the ramping up of U.S. combat operations in Iraq.

Since August 2014, coalition warplanes and drones have been regularly bombing IS targets in Iraq and Syria.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP