Kurds surround Mosul dam as US supplies air support
Kurdish forces have reportedly surrounded the strategic Mosul dam and have begun an offensive to take it back from the Islamic State.
Kurdish forces have launched a ground offensive to seize control of Iraq's strategic Mosul dam from Islamic militants, as U.S. airstrikes continued for a third day.
Multiple well-placed U.S. defense sources told Fox News that U.S. airstrikes involving manned and unmanned jet fighters are continuing around the dam. Iraqi ground forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are involved in an "extensive" ground operation to retake the Mosul dam.
The dam, which supplies water and electricity to northern Iraq, was seized on August 7 by the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS.
Defense sources told Fox News that a "lengthy, multi-phase operation" is expected to retake the dam and it began Saturday morning local time.
The ground operation is being carried out with Iraqi army cooperation and is being billed as a joint Kurdish-Iraqi-US operation, sources said.
A high-level Kurdish official in the Mosul area told Fox News that Peshmerga fighters have taken the town of Teleskof inside ISIS-held area in northern Iraq as well as a few other surrounding villages Sunday.
U.S. Central Command said Saturday that a mix of U.S. fighter and remotely-piloted aircraft executed nine strikes as part of its humanitarian efforts in Iraq and to protect American personnel and facilities.
The strikes destroyed or damaged four armored personnel carriers, seven armed vehicles, two Humvees and an armored vehicle, officials said.
A senior U.S. official told Fox News early Saturday that the strikes were to protect Iraq’s critical infrastructure and that the U.S. executed them at the request of the Iraqi government, which thinks Islamic State forces can no longer maintain the dam. If the dam should fail, up to 12 feet of flooding at the U.S. Embassy and the major cities of Baghdad and Mosul could occur, officials say.
How crazy is Islamic State? We're going to find out soon. The Mosul dam's destruction or failure could kill half a million Iraqis and present the world with a horrific humanitarian and economic disaster. If it looks like they are going to lose the dam, Islamic State is capable of anything.
The Kurds have recovered nicely from their setbacks a couple of weeks ago. US airstrikes help, but the fighters themselves seem to have found whatever it was they lost in recent defeats.