US President Barack Obama has said that Kurdish fighters and Iraqi troops have retaken the Mosul Dam from “Islamic State” militants. This followed earlier conflicting statements about who was in control of the facility.
The United States president told reporters at the White House on Monday that the recapturing of the Mosul Dam by Iraqi and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq was a major step forward in the battle against “Islamic State” (IS) militants.
“Iraqi and Kurdish forces took the lead on the ground and performed with courage and determination. So this operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together and taking the fight to ISIL,” the president said, referring to IS by an acronym it had previously used to describe itself.
“If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States of America,” he added, noting that US airstrikes in support of the Kurdish and Iraqi fighters had played a significant role in allowing them to retake the dam.
US Central Command said US fighter jets, bombers and drones had launched 15 airstrikes near the dam on Monday, after carrying out 25 strikes over the weekend.
IS fighters had seized control of the Mosul Dam on August 7, giving them control of major power and water reserves, putting them in a position to deny supplies to much of the rest of the country.
In his statement at the White House, Obama also said the airstrikes were part of a long-term plan to defeat IS fighters in Iraq.
“We will continue to pursue a long-term strategy to turn the tide against ISIL by supporting the new Iraqi government and working with key partners in the region,” Obama said.
He also expressed his support for new Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi to form a more inclusive government, after the former premier, Nouri al-Maliki stepped aside, but he stressed that time was of the essence.
“I was impressed in my conversation with him about his vision for an inclusive government but they’ve got to get this done because the wolf’s at the door,” Obama said of al-Abadi.
On August 8, Washington intervened militarily in Iraq for the first time since it withdrew its troops in 2011, launching airstrikes on IS fighters. This came after IS had rapidly advanced into Iraqi territory throughout the summer, with the fighting displacing more than a million people and forcing religious minorities such as the Yazidis to flee.
pfd/se (AP, Reuters, AFP)