In an attempt to help the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters retake the Mosul Dam near the Iraqi city of Irbil, Sunday, the the U.S. military increased its air attacks on ISIS — launching 14 strikes as part of a joint military effort.
Fox News reports:
Fighter planes and drones have conducted at least 23 air strikes this weekend near the dam, in an urgent effort to recapture the facility from the violent militant group before members either let it fall into disrepair or intentionally open the gates and send a wave of floodwater into the nearby cities of Irbil and Mosul.
Gen. Tawfik Desty, a commander with the Kurdish forces at the dam, said his troops now control the eastern part of the dam and that fighting continues.
U.S. defense sources tell Fox News the fighting is far from over and that a “lengthy, multi-phase operation” will likely be needed to fully retake the dam.
In addition, a senior U.S. official said the effort to retake the damn is mostly a Kurdish Peshmerga operation.
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.
A high-level Kurdish official in the Mosul area told Fox News that the Peshmerga fighters on Sunday also retook the town of Teleskof, in northern Iraq, and a few other surrounding villages.
The air strikes Sunday also included bomber planes and are part of the larger humanitarian effort to help Americans in Iraq and those being killed by Islamic State militants for their religious beliefs, according to U.S. Central Command.
The strikes Sunday destroyed or damaged a military check point, four armored personnel carriers, seven armed vehicles, two Humvees and an armored vehicle, officials said.
ISIS meanwhile, has continued its killing spree.
Islamic State killed 82 to 90 Yazidi men and abducted their wives and children Saturday, U.S. officials confirmed.
A senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that U.S. surveillance drones saw evidence of the massacre of dozens of Yazidi men. The U.S. military later struck two militant targets, killing some of those involved in the killings, the source said.
The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking ethnic and religious group that numbers in the hundreds of thousands in Iraq, has been persecuted in the north by Islamic State militants, with at least 500 killed before this weekend, according to Iraq’s human rights minister.
Fox News notes that “the killings came a day after President Obama said U.S.-led air strikes had broken the siege by the militants against the minorities trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq.”
The Australian reports the carnage over the weekend was worse: “more than 300 Yazidi men were killed and 1,000 women and children were taken hostage after Islamist militants stormed their village in north-western Iraq.” According to Kurdish officials, ISIS laid siege to the Yazidi village, Kocho, on Friday.