President Barack Obama said the recapturing of the Mosul Dam by Iraqi and Kurdish forces — with support from U.S. air force — represented a “major step forward” in a battle against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“Today — with our support — Iraqi forces took a major step forward in their operations to recapture the largest dam in Iraq,” Obama said during a statement from the White House, where he addressed both ongoing U.S. military operations in Iraq and the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Pentagon said that it had conducted 15 airstrikes Monday near the Mosul Dam, the country’s largest dam that provides electricity and water to a large portion of the country. The U.S.’s airstrike campaign has helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces to wrest back control of the dam from ISIS fighters. Since Aug. 8, the Pentagon said, the U.S. has conducted 68 airstrikes in Iraq — 35 of them coming near the Mosul Dam.
Obama said that if ISIS militants had breached the dam, it could have had “catastrophic” consequences for U.S. personnel in the country — and for the country as a whole.
He cited the operations to recapture the Mosul Dam as proof that Iraqi and Kurdish forces could work together for the better of Iraq, and said if they continue to do so, they will have the “strong support” of the United States. He praised statements from Haider al-Abadi, who last week was named to the role of prime minister.
Obama pledged to continue to work with the new Iraqi government and U.S. allies on “long-term strategy” to counter ISIS militants in the region. But he warned Iraqi politicians that U.S. aid did not represent a signal to “let the foot off the gas return to the same kind of dysfunction that has so weakened the country generally.”
“Dr. Abadi has said the right things. I was impressed in my conversation with him about his vision for an inclusive government,” Obama said.
“But they have got to get this done because the wolf’s at the door and in order for them to be credible with the Iraqi people, they’re going to have to put behind some of the old practices and actually create a credible united government.”
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