WASHINGTON, D.C.: US military aircraft have carried out 35 air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq over the past three days, destroying more than 90 targets, the Pentagon said Monday (Wednesday in Manila).
The strikes marked the most intensive US bombardments of IS positions since they began on August 8.
Drones, fighter, bomber and attack jets “eliminated” Islamist fighters’ positions as the militants battled for control of a major dam in northern Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
“In all, we destroyed over 90 targets including a range of vehicles, equipment and fighting positions,” he added in a statement.
“Iraqi forces have cleared the dam and are working to further expand their area of control,” Kirby said.
Earlier, the US Central Com–mand (Centcome) indicated that American warplanes and drones carried out 15 air strikes on Monday alone.
Fighter jets, bombers and unmanned planes destroyed nine Islamic State positions and eight vehicles around the Mosul dam, where insurgents are fighting Kurdish forces, CENTCOM added.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said US forces stood ready to pursue more missions along those lines, according to Kirby.
“Secretary Hagel also com–mends the way in which Iraqi forces worked together in this operation. It reflects the growing determination of Iraqis to fight back,” the spokesman added.
The US military launched a wave of air strikes in northern Iraq just over a week ago with the stated aim of protecting a group of Yazidi minority refugees and US personnel and facilities.
The strikes also sought to prevent an IS advance on the city of Arbil.
Obama hailed the Kurds’ recapture of a major dam outside Mosul but warned Baghdad that “the wolf is at the door” and said it must move quickly to build an inclusive government.
“This operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together and taking the fight to ISIL [Islamic State],” Obama said.
“If they continue to do so, they will have the strong support of the United States of America,” he promised, in his clearest signal yet that the 10-day-old US air campaign against IS is far from over.
Monday’s barrage destroyed nine IS fighting positions and a checkpoint, six armed trucks, an armored vehicle, a mobile anti-aircraft gun, and a patch of ground booby-trapped with improvised explosives.
Centcome said the strikes had been conducted under the authority of Obama’s order to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the fight against IS militants and to protect US personnel and facilities.