President Barack Obama has said that the recapturing of the strategic Mosul dam by Iraqi and Kurdish forces with US support is a major step forward in the fight against the Islamic State militants in Iraq, as American jets unleashed a barrage of bombs hitting militants position. "With our support, Iraqi and Kurdish forces took a major step forward by recapturing the largest dam in Iraq near the city of Mosul. The Mosul Dam fell under terrorist control earlier this month and is directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq," Obama told reporters.
"If that dam was breached, it could have proven catastrophic, with floods that would have threatened the lives of thousands of civilians and endangered our embassy compound in Baghdad," he said, adding Iraqi and Kurdish forces took the lead on the ground and performed with courage and determination.
A September 2006 report by the US Army Corps of Engineers noted that "in terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world." The report further outlined a worst-case scenario, in which a sudden collapse of the dam would flood Mosul under 65 feet of water and Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, to 15 feet.
The Islamic State militants seized the Mosul dam two weeks ago, causing worries that the dam could be breached.
"This operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together in taking the fight to ISIL. If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States of America," Obama said. He said the US is building an international coalition to address the humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq. "The US would work with the Iraqi government, as well as partners like the UK, Canada, France, Italy and Australia, to get food and water to people in need and to bring long-term relief to people who have been driven from their homes." The US, he said, will continue to pursue a long-term strategy to turn the tide against ISIL by supporting the new Iraqi government and working with key partners.
Meanwhile, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said that over the past 72 hours, at the request of the Iraqi government, the US military used fighters, bombers, attack, and unmanned aircraft to conduct 35 strikes that eliminated ISIL positions in and around the Mosul Dam complex. "In all, we destroyed over 90 targets including a range of vehicles, equipment, and fighting positions. Iraqi forces have cleared the dam and are working to further expand their area of control," he said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was "extraordinarily" proud of the men and women serving on land and sea who conducted these operations, Kirby said.