Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces, backed by US airstrikes, recaptured the strategic Mosul Dam on Monday after two days of fighting with Islamist insurgents, a Kurdish military spokesman said.
The hill and the area broadly to its west were so heavily booby-trapped that Kurdish forces struggled to advance through it. “The problem we face now is the explosives,” General Mansour Barzani, commander of the special forces in Iraq‘s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, said.
During the fighting on Monday, Kurdish and Iraqi forces initially reclaimed the core of the dam, but a second smaller annex was heavily contested because insurgents controlled a hill overlooking it, the front-line commander said.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces backed by special counterterrorism units and US airstrikes secured a 24-kilometre stretch of land approaching the dam and then cleared the area of more than 500 Islamic State fighters, the commander said.
On a hilltop military post overlooking the dam, General Barzani said the insurgent control over the vital water resource, seized on August 7, had become “an existential threat to Iraq. “We couldn’t anticipate their reaction or what they would do next,” the commander, a son of Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, said.
Jet fighters and armed drones targeted insurgent positions near the dam and around Erbil, capital of the Kurdish region, according to the US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East.
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