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US military launches cyberattacks against ISIS targets

The attack is in part designed "to overload their network so that they can't function."

(Image via CBSNews.com)

The US has launched its first cyberattacks against so-called Islamic State in an effort to disrupt the group's communications ahead of a coalition ground operation.

The move comes just a few days after President Barack Obama directed the military to "continue accelerating" its offensive against the terrorist group, better known as ISIS or ISIL.

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter reportedly said the US military is currently waging a cyber-offensive to "interrupt [and] disrupt ISIL's command and control, to cause them to lose confidence in their networks, to overload their network so that they can't function, and do all of these things that will interrupt their ability to command and control forces there, control the population and the economy."

Carter did not provide specific details of the operation.

The move comes ahead of an expected operation involving US, Iraqi, and Kurdish forces to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a key stronghold for the terror group.

It's no secret that the US has exploits and cyber-weapons at its disposal, but this may be the first time the government has openly announced it has targeted the networks of an adversary as part of a military operation. The president has said before that the government would order a "pre-emptive strike" against a threatening nation state if the US needs to defend itself.

While electronic eavesdropping and jamming are commonplace on the battlefield, a public acknowledgement of a full-out offensive against a target's networks or computers is unheard of.