The U.S. has launched fresh airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group in an effort to keep the Haditha Dam in western Iraq from being captured by Islamic State militants.
U.S. Central Command confirmed the airstrikes in a statement issued early Sunday, saying that five Humvees, an armed vehicle, and a checkpoint were destroyed. The strikes also damaged a militant bunker. The U.S. carried out one additional airstrike that destroyed a Humvee at the crucial Mosul Dam in northern Iraq.
The dam in western Iraq’s Anbar Province, a major source of water and electrical power, is currently in control of the Iraqis, but there have been attempts by the militants to take over the vital facility.
The Sunday airstrikes on the area around the dam were carried out at the request of the Iraqi government, according to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is currently on a trip to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi.
“If that dam would fall into ISIL’s (Islamic State’s) hands or if that dam would be destroyed, the damage that 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.