Kurds: U.S. Air Power Backing Operation To Retake Mosul Dam

August 17, 2014

Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET

Kurdish forces say they’ve retaken areas near the country’s largest dam in Mosul from Islamic separatists, a day after U.S. officials acknowledged conducting airstrikes in the region.

The Associated Press, quoting Kurdish peshmerga leader Gen. Tawfik Desty, said his fighters, backed by Iraqi and U.S. warplanes, started an operation to retake Mosul Dam from rebels belonging to Islamic State, an extremist group inspired by al-Qaida that is also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, early Sunday.

“Desty, a commander with the Kurdish forces at the dam, which was seized on Aug. 7, said they now control the eastern part of the dam and that fighting is still underway,” the AP says.

In a statement issued by U.S. Central Command, the Pentagon says U.S. forces “using a mix of fighter, bomber, attack and remotely piloted aircraft” continued to successfully strike near the Mosul Dam. It also said it had continued to conduct airstrikes to protect in support of humanitarian efforts in Iraq.

“The 14 strikes conducted on Sunday in Iraq damaged or destroyed ten ISIL armed vehicles, seven ISIL Humvees, two ISIL armored personnel carriers, and one ISIL checkpoint,” Central Command said.

As we reported on Saturday, U.S. carrier-based F/A-18s and drones were conducting strikes near the dam on the Tigris River in northern Iraq, which has seen stepped-up fighting between Islamic State militants and peshmerga forces.

Ghassan Salim, 29, a lawyer who lives near the dam, told NPR by telephone that the U.S. airstrikes came from the east and west targeting an area about 3 miles from the dam. They lasted into Sunday morning. But he said he witnessed no clear progress by Kurdish forces on the ground as yet.

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