US carries out 15 air strikes near Iraq dam

August 19, 2014 - 9:04:09 am

WASHINGTON: US warplanes and drones carried out 15 air strikes on Monday against Islamic State militants battling for control of a major dam in northern Iraq, the military said.

Fighter jets, bombers and unmanned planes destroyed nine Islamic State positions and eight vehicles around the Mosul dam, where insurgents are fighting Kurdish forces, US Central Command said.

That brought the total number of strikes conducted at the request of the Iraqi government over the past three days to 35, which the Pentagon said eliminated IS positions in and around the Mosul dam complex.

"In all, we destroyed over 90 targets including a range of vehicles, equipment and fighting positions," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

"Iraqi forces have cleared the dam and are working to further expand their area of control."

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said US forces stood ready to pursue more missions along those lines, according to Kirby.

"Secretary Hagel also commends the way in which Iraqi forces worked together in this operation. It reflects the growing determination of Iraqis to fight back against ISIL," the spokesman added.

The US military launched a wave of air strikes in northern Iraq just over a week ago with the stated aim of protecting a group of Yazidi minority refugees and US personnel and facilities.

The strikes also sought to prevent an IS advance on the city of Arbil.

President Barack Obama said last week that the siege of the Yazidi civilians has been broken, but strikes have only intensified as US-backed Kurdish and Iraqi forces try to secure the key dam.

Monday's barrage destroyed nine IS fighting positions and a checkpoint, six armed trucks, an armored vehicle, a mobile anti-aircraft gun and a patch of ground booby-trapped with improvised explosives.

Central Command said the strikes had been conducted under the authority of Obama's order to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the fight against IS militants and to protect US personnel and facilities. (AFP)