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15:49, 17 August 2014 Sunday

U.S. strikes in Iraq near Arbil and Mosul dam

U.S. strikes in Iraq near Arbil and Mosul dam

U.S. Central Command said the strikes were conducted with a mix of fighters and drones, adding: "All aircraft exited the strike areas safely."



The United States on Saturday conducted air strikes in Iraq against ISIL fighters near the Kurdish capital of Arbil and the Mosul dam, the U.S. Central Command said.

The Mosul dam, Iraq's biggest, fell under control of ISIL militants earlier this month. Control of the dam could give the fighters the ability to flood cities and cut off vital water and electricity supplies.

After the ISIL's capture of the northern city of Mosul in June, its swift push to the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan alarmed Baghdad and last week drew the first U.S. air strikes on Iraq since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

"The nine air strikes conducted thus far destroyed or damaged four armored personnel carriers, seven armed vehicles, two Humvees and an armored vehicle," the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

It said the strikes were conducted with a mix of fighters and drones, adding: "All aircraft exited the strike areas safely."

The Central Command said the strikes were aimed at supporting humanitarian efforts in Iraq and protecting U.S. personnel and facilities there.

Iraq has been plunged into its worst violence since the peak of a sectarian civil war in 2006-2007, with Sunni fighters led by the ISIL overrunning large parts of the west and north, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee for their lives and threatening ethnic Kurds in their autonomous province.

The ISIL has also seized large parts of Syria.

Following the announcement this week by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that he would step aside after eight years in power, U.S. officials have said Washington may accelerate U.S. economic and military aid to Iraq if the new leadership is more inclusive.



Related Topics » US | Arbil and Mosul |