By John Lee.
The Financial Times reports that US forces, Iraqi government troops and their militia allies say they have cleared Islamist militants threatening the crucial Haditha dam (pictured) in Anbar province, in Washington’s first attack in direct support of Baghdad since the launch of US operations a month ago.
Baghdad has controlled the dam along the Euphrates River since late August but the insurgents have continued to threaten the hydroelectric facility that provides electricity and water to millions of Iraqis.
Chuck Hagel, US defence secretary, said:
“If that dam would fall into [Isis’s] hands or if that dam would be destroyed, the damage that would cause would be very significant and it would put a significant, additional and big risk into the mix in Iraq.”
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said:
"At the request of the government of Iraq, U.S. military aircraft attacked terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant yesterday in support of Iraqi security forces and Sunni tribes protecting the Haditha and Mosul dams, according to a news release from U.S. Central Command.
"A mix of fighter and bomber aircraft conducted four airstrikes near Haditha. In total, the strikes destroyed five ISIL Humvees, one ISIL armed vehicle, an ISIL checkpoint and also damaged an ISIL bunker. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely."
(Sources: FT, NY Times, US Dept of Defense)