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US Ramps Up Military Strikes in Iraq as Militant Control Over Key Dam Remains Unclear

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Original published at Common Dreams

US continues incremental increases in military action in Iraq with notifications to Congress but no vote


A U.S. Marine stands in front of Osprey aircraft on Aug. 12, 2014.
(image by (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua M. Rudy))
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by Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Iraqi and Kurdish officials claim Monday to have retaken control of a strategic dam held by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters following a weekend in which the United States ramped up its military involvement in the country with additional air strikes.

Agence France-Presse reports:

"Iraqi security spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassem Atta confirmed Monday that Mosul dam was entirely liberated in a joint operation by Iraqi 'anti-terrorism forces and peshmerga forces with aerial support.'"

The New York Times adds that...

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"Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish leader and the foreign minister in Iraqi's departing government, also said by telephone Monday that the dam was in the hands of Iraqi and Kurdish forces."

Yet there are many reports contesting that control of the Mosul dam, at least in its entirety, has been wrested from ISIS.

In addition to ISIS denying the claim, an anonymous U.S. defense official told the Associated Press that the fight to retake the dam was "not over."

Further, an employee of the dam told Reuters, "Islamic State fighters are still in full control over the dam's facilities and most of them are taking shelter near the sensitive places of the dam to avoid air strikes."

The Times' reporting on Monday adds that no video or photographic evidence has yet been released to corroborate the claim.

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Explaining the importance of the dam, Reuters reports:

"A 2007 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report obtained by the Washington Post said the dam, which blocks the Tigris and holds 12 billion cubic meters of water, could flood two cities killing tens of thousands of people if were destroyed or collapsed.

"A wall of water could surge as far as Baghdad, 400 km away."

President Barack Obama on Sunday sent notification to Congress stating his authorization of "air strikes to support operations by Iraqi forces to recapture the Mosul Dam."

"The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace," the notification states.

As he previously wrote in notifications to Congress regarding military involvement in Iraq, "I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action."

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