United States Representative Jim Gerlach, who represents parts of Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery counties, issued the following statement Friday on U.S. military operations in Iraq:

"I support the president's decision to use tactical airstrikes to protect U.S. forces and diplomatic personnel as well as innocent Iraqi civilians.

"Our thoughts are with all those serving our country in Iraq who are in harm's way. The brave men and women of our military have made incredible sacrifices to free the Iraqi people from the grip of a brutal dictator and provide a chance for self-governance and respect for the rule of law and individual liberties to flourish.

"I am hopeful these air strikes will effectively blunt the grave threat posed by ISIS and other radical terror groups fighting to reverse the progress made in Iraq and plunging that country deeper into violence and chaos."

Two F/A-18 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on a piece of artillery and the truck towing it, said Pentagon spokesman, adding that the militants were using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending the city of Irbil.

The planes took off from the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush in the Persian Gulf.