BAGHDAD: Kurdish forces backed by US warplanes battled yesterday to retake Iraq’s largest dam from jihadists, a day after militants carried out a “massacre” of dozens of villagers.
Two months of violence have brought Iraq to the brink of breakup, and world powers relieved by the exit of premier Nouri Al Maliki were sending aid to the displaced and arms to the Kurds.
Kurdish forces attacked the Islamic State (IS) fighters who wrested the Mosul dam from them a week earlier, a general said. “Kurdish peshmerga, with US air support, have seized control of the eastern side of the dam” complex, Major General Abdulrahman Korini said, saying several jihadists had been killed.
Buoyed by air strikes US President Barack Obama ordered last week, peshmerga fighters have tried to claw back the ground they lost since the start of August. The dam on the Tigris provides electricity to much of the region and is crucial to irrigation in vast farming areas in Nineveh province. The recapture of the dam would be one of the most significant achievements in a fightback that is also getting international material support.
In another setback, a roadside bomb yesterday killed the engineer tasked with repairing a key bridge north of Baghdad, the loss of which has hampered operations farther north.