MUCH AT STAKE: Kurdish fighters battle Islamic State for control of strategic Mosul Dam
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/18/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Kurdish fighters, or Peshmerga are currently engaged in a strategic battle with Islamic state fighters over the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq. Peshmerga have fired mortars and explosives at extremist militants this past weekend as the battle to retake the strategic dam rages on.
The U.S. military confirmed a mix of fighter jets and drones carried out nine airstrikes on Saturday near Mosul and the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While the Peshmerga had taken over the eastern side of the structure, clashes were ongoing over the western side.
Both sides face a daunting challenge: fighting a fierce offensive to retake the dam without damaging it. There is growing concern that the facility is not maintained and could rupture. A failure of the dam would be catastrophic, resulting in flooding all the way to Baghdad, one official said on condition of anonymity.
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter prepares his weapon at his combat position near the Mosul Dam at the town of Chamibarakat outside Mosul, Iraq.
Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam, the facility on the Tigris River about 31 miles north of the city of Mosul is a key source of electricity, irrigation and flood protection.
ISIS fighters seized it earlier this month. They were digging in to keep their grip, using snipers, land mines and other explosives in their efforts to fend off advancing forces.
The United States estimates there may be up to 400 ISIS fighters in and around the dam complex. Members of the Peshmerga says they ar3e worried that the militants could try to sabotage the dam.
The black flags of jihadist group Islamic State flew over the Mosul dam for 10 days before it was recaptured by Kurdish and Iraqi ground forces.
Islamic State operatives have set up high-powered explosives around buildings and detonated them, Kurdish Intelligence chief Masrour Barzani said.
"We believe our Peshmerga can take (the dam) back because this is something very, very dangerous," Barzani said.
U.S. military forces used "a mix of fighter, bomber, attack and remotely piloted aircraft to successfully conduct airstrikes near the Mosul Dam," according to U.S. Central Command.
President Barack Obama justified the airstrikes in a letter to Congress.
"The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace," a notice from the White House read.
"These military operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to support the Iraqi forces in their efforts to retake and establish control of this critical infrastructure site," the letter read.
"The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace," it continued.
The U.S. military confirmed a mix of fighter jets and drones carried out nine airstrikes on Saturday near Mosul and the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil. On Sunday, the U.S. military conducted 14 airstrikes in Iraq, damaging or destroying ISIS militants' vehicles, armored personnel carriers and a checkpoint, Central Command.
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