Fresh US air strikes in northern Iraq amid militants' threats to kill second journalist

The US airstrikes come amid Islamic State militants' threats to kill US journalist Steven Sotloff, seen here in a still from a video released online on Tuesday which also showed the beheading by militants of US journalist James Foley in retaliat
The US airstrikes come amid Islamic State militants' threats to kill US journalist Steven Sotloff, seen here in a still from a video released online on Tuesday which also showed the beheading by militants of US journalist James Foley in retaliation for US airstrikes on Iraq. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US aircraft pounded Islamic State militants in 14 air strikes near Iraq’s largest dam in the past 24 hours, officials said Wednesday, amid IS threats to kill a second American journalist.

Since Tuesday, US drones and fighter jets destroyed or damaged six IS Humvees, three sites for improvised explosive devices, one mortar tube and two armed trucks, US Central Command said.

The latest air raids brought to 84 the number conducted since August 8.

Of those, 51 were in support of Iraqi forces near Mosul dam, now under the control of Iraqi and Kurdish security forces.

The command said the latest strikes served to “further expand” Iraqi and Kurdish control of the area.

“These strikes were conducted under authority to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defence force operations, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, US personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts,” it added.

The statement came after the Islamic State movement, which has seized much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq, released a video showing a masked militant beheading US reporter James Foley.

The black-clad man said the 40-year-old freelance journalist, who was kidnapped in northern Syria in November 2012, had been killed to avenge American air strikes against IS.

He paraded a second US reporter, Steven Sotloff, before the camera and said he too would die unless Obama changes course.