The crisis in Iraq has also focused new attention on the spread of IS in Syria, prompting calls from some quarters for direct US military intervention there.
The official spoke while the US Central Command announced 14 more US airstrikes “in the vicinity of Mosul dam,” bringing the total of US airstrikes in Iraq to 84 since Aug. 8.
“The Department of Defense confirmed Aug. 18 that Iraqi forces have cleared and now hold Mosul Dam, and that Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces are working together to further expand their control of the area,” Centcom said.
The capture of Mosul shocked Iraqis and the Barack Obama administration, which was disheartened to see the collapse of much of the US-trained Iraqi military and the loss of so many US weapons. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk testified last month that five of 18 Iraqi army and federal police divisions fell apart in 48 hours in the face of the onslaught from IS, which he called “no longer a terrorist organization [but] a full-blown army.”