Airstrikes Help Iraqis Retake Vital Dam

? US airstrikes helped Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces recapture the strategically critical Mosul Dam in northern Iraq from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants, President Obama told reporters on Monday during a press briefing. “Iraqi and Kurdish forces took the lead on the ground and performed with courage and determination,” said Obama. “This operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together in taking the fight to ISIL. If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States,” he said. On Aug. 18, US strike aircraft carried out 15 attacks near the dam, damaging or destroying ISIL fighting positions, vehicles, and anti-aircraft guns, announced US Central Command. Since Aug. 8, 35 of the 68 US airstrikes against ISIL supported Iraqi forces near the dam, states the release. In addition to fighter, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft, strikes on Aug. 17 included the use of bombers—the apparent first use of them against ISIL. Thus far, the Air Force has declined to identify what specific assets have participated, together with Navy carrier-based fighters, in these sorties, but B-1 bombers do regularly operate from al Udeid, AB Qatar. (See White House blog entry.)