Iraqi and Kurdish Forces Retrieve Mosul Dam from ISIL*
By Hassan Al-Obaidi In Baghdad 2014-08-23The high level of co-ordination between Iraq’s federal army troops and Peshmerga forces in the Kurdish region has resulted in successful joint operations against the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) in the north of the country, Iraqi military officials said.
“One of the fruits of the great co-operation between the Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga was the liberation of the Mosul Dam and the surrounding villages, as well as cities and towns in the mountainous province of Ninawa,” Iraqi joint operations command spokesman Qassim Atta said.
The special forces of the Rapid Intervention Brigade and the army’s 4th Brigade supported the Peshmerga forces in a fierce military operation which wrenched the Mosul Dam and the villages of al-Resala, al-Wihda, al-Islah, al-Fatha, al-Jubur and al-Qalaa from ISIL’s grasp, Atta said.
“The operation to control the dam began at 5 a.m. on Monday and ended exactly at 11 a.m.,” Atta said. “The role of helicopters was supportive in silencing the artillery and heavy machine guns that ISIL used to try to impede the progress of the joint forces.”
Operations are ongoing at the west side of the dam, where ISIL elements placed explosives around the headquarters buildings used by the engineers in charge of the management of the dam, he said.
“We hope to cautiously finish clearing those in the coming period to avoid losses in our forces,” he said.
A united front against ISIL
“The federal forces united with the Peshmerga forces 40 kilometres from the dam before progressing together against those gangs, and the provision of minesweepers by Iraqi forces managed to achieve this progress,” Atta said.
The high level of military and intelligence co-ordination between the army and the Peshmerga forces “achieved great success in a few days”, Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army Babakr Zebari told Mawtani.
The operation resulted in the liberation of nine villages and six towns ISIL was controlling in the north of the country, “oppressing their people and killing whomever they wanted”, Zebari said.
The co-ordinated efforts comprised air cover by Iraqi combat helicopters and the exchange of information on the movements and gatherings of ISIL elements, he said, as well as supplying the Peshmerga forces with modern equipment and weapons in order to reinforce the northern front.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari told Mawtani “the ministry equipped the Peshmerga forces with combat equipment and weapons to support their combat positions in the face of ISIL”.
The Peshmerga also received weaponry, he added, from light and medium weapons to anti-personnel and anti-armour rounds, medium range artillery, ammunition and armoured vehicles.
Erbil airport opens to Iraqi army
Ministry of Peshmerga spokesman Jabbar al-Yawar told Mawtani that Erbil International Airport had been designated for the transfer of Iraqi soldiers and military equipment in order to circumvent the enemy from several axes and shorten the road.
“Baghdad is about 405 kilometres away from the city of Mosul, which makes the process of transporting troops and strengthening the military units difficult and costly,” he said.
By opening Erbil airport to the Iraqi army, al-Yawar said, Iraqi forces were able to deploy to the front more quickly and efficiently.