U.S. airstrikes help Kurds take back control of Mosul Dam
BADRIYA, Iraq — Waves of U.S. airstrikes around a vital dam in northern Iraq helped Iraqi forces to seize it from Islamist terrorists on Monday.
Iraqi and Kurdish officials said they expelled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters from Mosul Dam, the country's largest, and are in complete control of it. It was their biggest push to reverse ISIS's gains in nearly two months of bloody fighting.
Yet Christian and Yazidi villagers who fled ISIS's advance remain wary of returning home. Many watched from a distance while fighting continued throughout the day as American warplanes roared overhead and smoke from explosions darkened the horizon.
“I want to go to my village now, but it is too dangerous,” said Khaled Hudada, 44, a teacher from Al Risala, a mostly Yazidi village of about 4,000 people.
“Some of our Arab neighbors were helping ISIS to get into the village, and they are the ones who stole our things.”
Peering toward the far-off explosions, he said: “Our only savior, after God, is America.”
Mahdi Hussein, a captain of Kurdish militia known as peshmerga, claimed to be “in control of Mosul Dam, 100 percent.”
Lt. Gen. Qassem Atta, an Iraqi army spokesman, said Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi special forces, backed by U.S. air power, “fully liberated the dam” and “hoisted the Iraqi flag over it.”
U.S. drones, bombers and fighter jets made 15 strikes and “damaged or destroyed” nine ISIS positions, a checkpoint, an armored vehicle and an anti-aircraft artillery gun, a U.S. military statement said.
Of 68 airstrikes since Aug. 8, it said, 35 were around Mosul Dam.
President Obama notified Congress of the airstrikes in a letter, stating that ISIS's control of the dam threatened “large numbers of civilians” and endangered “U.S. personnel and facilities.”
Kurdish peshmerga moved quickly on the dam as soon as the airstrikes allowed but were slowed by booby-traps and mines. Their sappers drove a truck of deactivated explosives to the Badriya checkpoint.
A Kurdish captain, wiping sweat from his face in the 110-degree heat, said “we deactivated 27 explosives and landmines along the road” and exploded two others.
Kurdish troops kept civilian cars from entering the area as other peshmerga headed toward the fighting on trucks.
The dam on the Tigris River provides water and hydroelectricity to much of northern Iraq. ISIS seized it and nearby towns on Aug. 7, during a blitz that threatened the Kurdish capital, Irbil.
U.S. and Iraqi officials feared ISIS would destroy the dam and flood much of the country.
ISIS — known for beheading and crucifying some of its captives — still controls a large swath of Iraq and Syria, including Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. Minority Christians and Yazidis have fled to the relative safety of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent. Email her at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Reagan shooter Hinckley closer to permanent freedom
- Cole overcomes rough start as Pirates sweep Brewers
- Steelers won’t be backed into a corner at NFL Draft
- Pirates notebook: GM sticking to plan with Kang
- Monessen man wounded in afternoon shooting
- Daily Courier Roundup: Southmoreland baseball rolls past Derry
- Crosby’s 2 goals lift Penguins past Rangers, even series
- Louisville’s late goal results in 1-1 draw with Riverhounds
- U.S. attorney general nominee Lynch vote likely this week, U.S. senator says
- Sutter steps up for Penguins in series-tying victory
- Photo gallery: Going medieval in Highland Park