US Airstrikes at Mosul Dam Within Assigned Missions, Pentagon Says

The Pentagon pushed back Tuesday on the idea of mission creep in Iraq, saying the US air strikes that helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces reclaim the Mosul Dam from Islamic extremists were entirely within the two missions President Obama gave the military. “The goals and objectives are limited … The goals and objectives have not changed,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby during an Aug. 19 Pentagon briefing with reporters. The missions are “providing humanitarian assistance and protecting US personnel and facilities … and those strikes fit into both.” Kirby said there were concerns that if the dam remained under the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s control, extremists might blow it up or open the flood gates, causing disastrous flooding as far south as Baghdad and endangering the US Embassy and hundreds of Americans. Kirby said there were no US ground personnel controlling the strikes, but he conceded there would have been US “coordination and planning” with the local forces before the air strikes, which he said were “critical to retaking that dam.” He also praised the “courage and skills” of the Iraqi and Kurdish forces.