Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iraqi security forces, with the support of US air raids, have pushed back Islamic State (IS) militants from a wide area around the Haditha dam. In recent weeks, the Islamists have repeatedly tried to capture the mega-plant (of strategic importance) on the Euphrates River, in the western Anbar province, from the control of the government army and their tribal allies. The operation around the Haditha Dam marks an expansion of the military actions in by Washington, so far limited to the north and especially in the Kurdish area.
In the coming days, President Barack Obama is expected to outline the US strategy to defeat the Islamists who, from the beginning of June until today, have conquered vast areas in northern and western Iraq (and Syria), creating a "caliphate".
According to reports from the leader of Sunni tribes in western Iraq, the US air raids around the Haditha Dam have "wiped out" a phalanx of Islamist militants who tried to attack the dam. Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha speaks of "pin point operations" that have not resulted in "collateral damage".
Army and militias have also
regained control of Barwana, east of Hadita,
after miltants fled abandoning weapons
and vehicles during their retreat. The governor of Anbar, Ahmed
al-Dulaimi, was injured in the clashes by a mortar round.
The Haditha Dam is the second largest hydroelectric plant in Iraq and supplies drinking water to millions of citizens. Since the beginning the Islamists have targeted numerous dams, taking possession in April of a dam in Falluja. They also took control of the Mosul dam for a few weeks, but here were expelled in a joint operation between the Iraqi Army and United States Air Force. Since the beginning of August, Washington has conducted more than 130 air raids in support of the land operations of the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi security forces.
Meanwhile, Arab League foreign ministers, meeting in Cairo yesterday, reached an agreement for a "joint action" against extremist groups, including the IS. The goal is to block political, economic, military supplies to the Islamists, even though there is no confirmation of a possible coordination with the United States in the operation.
The United Nations reports that last month, the worst so far in the conflict with the Islamic Army, 1420 people were killed; 1370 injured. In the past year, at least 1.6 million Iraqis have been displaced by violence; 850 thousand in the month of August. These include hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and Turkomans driven from their homes under threat of death if they did not convert to Islam radical.