Tags: Iraq | ISIS/Islamic State | us | expands | iraq | haditha | airstrikes

US Expands Air Offensive in Iraq to Protect Haditha Dam

Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 07:26 AM

The U.S. expanded its air offensive in Iraq by conducting strikes for the first time in the western part of the country to protect the Haditha Dam.

The new offensive, using fighter and bomber aircraft, was carried out yesterday and follows weeks of strikes around the Mosul Dam, which Islamic State militants had seized before ceding the territory to Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the U.S. Central Command said in an e-mailed statement.

The action in Iraq’s Anbar province is in support of Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters seeking to reverse gains made by the insurgents, who have rampaged through OPEC’s No. 2 crude-oil producer since taking Mosul in June, according to the statement.

The Haditha Dam is Iraq’s second-largest dam. Kurdish and Iraqi forces seized control last month of the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River, the country’s biggest, with U.S. air support. The two dams are considered strategically important, together providing much of Iraq’s water and electricity.

The U.S. has conducted a total of 138 strikes since Aug. 7, when President Barack Obama authorized a return to military intervention in a conflict the nation had largely left behind more than three years ago. While Obama has ruled out a return of U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, he has described the air offensive as a limited mission to protect American personnel and help provide humanitarian relief.

Offensive Begins

“We need U.S. strikes, and we agreed to have them in the province,” Faleh al-Issawi, deputy head of Anbar’s provincial council, said in a phone interview, adding that a “wide military offensive” led by elite Iraqi forces had started earlier today.

The U.S. air offensive near Haditha is backed by Iraqi strikes and troops on the ground, General Anwar Ahmed Ameen, commander of Iraq’s air force, said by phone.

“Iraqi security forces are trying to push Islamic State fighters away from the dam and recapture all areas the group controlled,” the general said.

Islamic State insurgents have previously used water as a weapon, seizing a dam on the Euphrates near Fallujah and flooding some areas, forcing families from their homes and hampering the deployment of local forces.

Obama has said the U.S. will continue “limited” airstrikes against militants. The president, who pressured former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to step down, is seeking the speedy formation of a new, more inclusive Iraqi government under Prime Minister-designate Haidar Al-Abadi as a stabilizing step for the region.


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The U.S. expanded its air offensive in Iraq by conducting strikes for the first time in the western part of the country to protect the Haditha Dam. The new offensive, using fighter and bomber aircraft, was carried out yesterday and follows weeks of strikes around the Mosul...
us, expands, iraq, haditha, airstrikes
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2014-26-07
Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 07:26 AM
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