Tag Archives: Iraq news

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USA launched airstrikes around Haditha Dam in western Iraq

The U.S. military said Sunday it launched airstrikes around Haditha Dam in western Iraq, targeting Islamic State insurgents there for the first time in a move to prevent the group from capturing the vital dam.

U.S. officials said that while the Anbar Province dam remains in control of the Iraqis, the U.S. offensive was an effort to beat back militants who have been trying to take over key dams across the country, including the Haditha complex.

“We conducted these strikes to prevent terrorists from further threatening the security of the dam, which remains under control of Iraqi Security Forces, with support from Sunni tribes,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

The dam is a major source of water and electrical power and the air strikes were made at the request of the Iraqi government, he said.

The military said a mix of fighter and bomber aircraft conducted four airstrikes, destroying five Islamic State Humvees, another armed vehicle, a checkpoint and damaged a militant bunker. The U.S. aircraft safely exited the strike area.

“We will continue to conduct operations as needed in support of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Sunni tribes, working with those forces securing Haditha Dam,” Kirby said.

The officials were traveling with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who was in Georgia for talks with defense and other leaders. His visit comes on the heels of the two-day NATO summit in Wales.

Last month Islamic State fighters were battling to capture the Haditha Dam, which has six power generators located alongside Iraq’s second-largest reservoir. But, despite their attacks, Iraqi forces there backed up by local Sunni tribes have been able to hold them off.

The group was able to take control of the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq last month, but persistent U.S. airstrikes dislodged the militants. And while fighters have been trying to take it back, the U.S. has continued to use strikes to keep them at bay.

The military said Sunday it had also launched a fresh air attack against militants near the Mosul Dam.

U.S. officials have expressed concerns that militants could flood Baghdad and other large swaths of the country if they control the dams. It also would give the group control over electricity, which they could use to strengthen their control over residents.

Earlier this year, the group gained control of the Fallujah Dam on the Euphrates River and the militants used it as a weapon, opening it to flood downriver when government forces moved in on the city.

Water is a precious commodity in Iraq, a largely desert country of 32.5 million people. The decline of water levels in the Euphrates over recent years has led to electricity shortages in towns south of Baghdad, where steam-powered generators depend entirely on water levels.

On Friday and Saturday, the U.S. used a mix of attack aircraft, fighter jets and drones to conduct two airstrikes around Irbil. The strikes hit trucks and armored vehicles. Those operations brought the total number of airstrikes to 133 since early August.

The airstrikes are aimed at protecting U.S. personnel and facilities, as well protecting critical infrastructure and aiding refugees fleeing the militants.

AP

ISIL Has Reportedly Beheaded An American Journalist Steven Sotloff

BEIRUT (AP) — An Internet video posted online Tuesday purported to show the beheading by the Islamic State group of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, who went missing in Syria last year. The extremist group, which has claimed wide swaths of … read more

Iraqi Kurds take over 2 northern oil fields

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Kurdish security forces took over two major oil fields outside the disputed northern city of Kirkuk before dawn Friday and said they would use some of the production for domestic purposes, further widening a split with the … read more

Iraqi officials discovered 50 bodies,blindfolded and with their hands bound

FILE Iraqi police discovered the slaughtered bodies

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi officials discovered 50 bodies, many of them blindfolded and with their hands bound, in an agricultural area outside a city south of Baghdad on Wednesday, raising concerns over a possible sectarian killing amid the battle against … read more

Iraq analyzing tape purported to show top militant

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi addressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Mosul (AFP Photo/)

Iraqi officials are working to determine the authenticity of a video that purportedly shows the leader of the Islamic extremist group that has seized large swaths of the country delivering a sermon this week in the nation’s second-largest city, authorities … read more

Iraq PM says hopes for deal on new government

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Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday that he hoped to overcome the challenges blocking the formation of a new government, a day after the new parliament’s first session ended without agreement on top government posts. “A state of … read more

Al-Qaida breakaway formally declares Islamic State

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BAGHDAD (AP) — The al-Qaida breakaway group that has seized much of northern Syria and huge tracks of neighboring Iraq formally declared the creation of an Islamic state on Sunday in the territory under its control. The spokesman for the … read more

Iraqi forces clash with militants in Tikrit

Smoke rising in the skyline after airstrikes by the Iraq military in the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, (AP Photo)

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi helicopter gunships struck suspected insurgent positions in Tikrit on Sunday as part of a government offensive to retake the predominantly Sunni hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein from Sunni militants led by the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic … read more

Iraq helicopter crashes in airborne commando assault on Tikrit

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(Reuters)   Iraqi forces launched an airborne assault on rebel-held Tikrit on Thursday with commandos flown into a stadium in helicopters, at least one of which crashed after taking fire from insurgents who have seized northern cities. Witnesses said battles were … read more

Syria and Iran Step Up Involvement in Iraq Conflict

Iraqi Shiite men hold up their weapons during a training session in the shrine city of Karbala, in central Iraq, on June 25, 2014 after they volunteered to protect the Shiite holy sites in central and south Iraq in case of an attack by Sunni militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Mohammed Sawaf—AFP/Getty Images

Sam Frizell @Sam_Frizell The conflagration in Iraq appeared to be expanding beyond its borders Tuesday, as Syrian warplanes bombed Iraq and reportedly sent in drones   The sectarian conflict in Iraq threatened to intensify beyond its borders Tuesday, as Syrian … read more