Iraq: US air strikes back Kurd push to retake Mosul dam

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Iraq: US air strikes back Kurd push to retake Mosul dam

Iraq: US air strikes back Kurd push to retake Mosul dam
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Kurdish fighters backed by US air strikes have launched a major offensive in northern Iraq against Islamic State militants.

The Peshmergas are trying to take control of the country’s largest dam at Mosul, which has been in IS hands for over a week.

US Central Command in Washington said the air strikes targeted Islamist militants near the dam and the Kurdish capital Arbil.

“The nine air strikes conducted thus far destroyed or damaged four armoured personnel carriers, seven armed vehicles, two Humvees and an armoured vehicle,” it said in a statement, adding: “All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.”

The Central Command said the strikes were aimed at supporting humanitarian efforts in Iraq and protecting U.S. personnel and facilities there.

International efforts have intensified to stop the Islamists’ advance after they took over large areas of Iraq.

“The only difference with the other conflicts is that these terrorists have seized a lot of sophisticated weapons left by the Iraqi army. These are American weapons. The ones we are using are old,” said Peshmerga officer Derya Cashkri.

The Kurds are impatient for Western arms, after the EU gave the green light to governments to supply them.

They are hoping to retake more towns like Makhmour, where the Kurds gained control after a fight with the Jihadists a week ago.

Germany, which has long avoided direct involvement in military conflicts, has said it is considering the possibility of delivering weapons to the Kurds.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier confirmed an extra 20 million euros in humanitarian aid, as he visited a temporary shelter for refugees in Arbil.