The U.S. military conducted airstrikes on ISIL insurgents at Iraq's strategic Haditha Dam on Sunday, according to officials.
Expanding efforts to contain and ultimately defeat the jihadist militants, the air campaign of four strikes on an ISIL unit attempting to attack the dam — the country's second largest hydro electric facility that provides millions of Iraqis with water.
"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," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.
According to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the U.S. acted at the request of the Iraqi government, adding that the strikes had crucial strategic significance.
“If that dam would fall into ISIL'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,” Hagel told reporters during a trip to Tbilisi, Georgia.
The Iraqi military also appeared to be satisfied with the results of the airstrike.
"They (the air strikes) were very accurate. There was no collateral damage ... If Islamic State had gained control of the dam, many areas of Iraq would have been seriously threatened, even Baghdad," Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, the leader of a pro-Iraqi government paramilitary force in western Iraq, told Reuters.
During an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press," aired Sunday, President Obama said, "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 'em."
Last month, the U.S. and Kurdish forces coordinated air and ground attacks to retake the Mosul Dam from ISIL insurgents.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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