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September 7, 2014

US expands air campaign into western Iraq

The US military has expanded its air campaign in Iraq by conducting additional strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) insurgents near the Haditha and Mosul dams.

The US military has expanded its air campaign in Iraq by conducting additional strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) insurgents near the Haditha and Mosul dams.

The US Central Command said in a statement that the US fighter and bomber aircraft conducted four airstrikes near Haditha, which destroyed five ISIL Humvees, one armed vehicle, a checkpoint, and also damaged an ISIL bunker.

"Additionally, an attack aircraft conducted one airstrike against ISIL near Mosul Dam on Saturday in support of Iraqi security forces protecting Mosul Dam. The strike damaged an ISIL Humvee," the statement said.

Pentagon Press Secretary Navy rear admiral John Kirby said: "We conducted these strikes to prevent terrorists from further threatening the security of the dam, which remains under control of Iraqi Security Forces, with support from Sunni tribes.

"We will continue to conduct operations as needed in support of the Iraqi security forces and the Sunni tribes, working with those forces securing Haditha Dam."

An earth-fill dam on the Euphrates River, the Haditha Dam provides electricity and fresh water for millions of Iraqi citizens and farms, and is second only to the Mosul Dam in hydroelectric production for Iraq.

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"We conducted these strikes to prevent terrorists from further threatening the security of the dam."

Kirby said: "The potential loss of control of the dam or a catastrophic failure of the dam – and the flooding that might result – would have threatened US personnel and facilities in and around Baghdad, as well as thousands of Iraqi citizens."

Since 8 August, the US Central Command has conducted a total of 138 airstrikes across Iraq.

Meanwhile, US President Brack Obama is set to outline his strategy against ISIL militants on 10 September.

In an interview with NBC TV, Obama said: "I’m preparing the country to make sure that we deal with a threat from ISIL.

"This is not the equivalent of the Iraq war. We are going to systematically degrade their capabilities.

"We’re going to shrink the territory that they control. And ultimately we’re going to defeat them."

Since June, ISIL terrorists have captured several cities and critical installations in northern Iraq and Syria, and also beheaded two American journalists in retaliation to US airstrikes.

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