About 200 of the US-trained commandos “did most of the fighting and cleared a lot of IEDs [improvised explosive devices]” while the United States provided air support, he said. The United States planned the operation and coordinated the Iraqis with the Kurds’ peshmerga from a joint operating center in the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil. The US official called the operation “historically pretty significant” given past frictions between the Kurds and the Baghdad government.
Beyond pushing back IS from the dam and dealing with the humanitarian disaster in northern Iraq caused by the IS onslaught, the Obama administration is closely monitoring the formation of a new Iraqi government under Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi.
The US official said that Sunni and Shiite politicians had met in Baghdad Aug. 18-19 and that Kurdish leaders had joined the talks about the formation of a new cabinet. Asked by Al-Monitor if the cabinet had to include a certain number of Sunnis and Kurds or have a Sunni defense minister to be considered sufficiently inclusive, the US official said there was no “particular test” but that the cabinet needs to include “a critical mass from each community in terms of endorsing a common national program to govern the state.”