WASHINGTON, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama has praised the “important progress” that the country’s troops have made in Iraq as they continue to assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground in their combat against Islamic State insurgents.
“We continue to see important progress across different parts of our strategy to support the Iraqi government and combat the threat from the terrorist group ISIL,” Barack Obama said in a statement, delivered at the White House Monday.
“Our military operations are effectively protecting our personnel and facilities in Iraq. Over the last 11 days, American airstrikes have stopped ISIL advance around the city of Arbil and pushed back the terrorists,” the president added.
He said the Pentagon recently urgently provided assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish security forces fighting on the frontlines, including in the area around a vital dam in Mosul, which has been a major battlefront in Iraqi fight against insurgency.
“Today, with our support, Iraqi and Kurdish forces took a major step forward by recapturing the largest dam in Iraq near the city of Mosul,” Obama said.
The dam fell under control of IS rebels earlier this month. There have been contradicting reports coming from the area over the past few days about whether it were IS or government forces who largely controlled the dam.
The Sunni group Islamic State, previously fighting in Syria, seized large parts of Iraq in early June, ratcheting up tensions in the region. In late June, the IS announced the establishment of a caliphate on the territories it had captured in Iraq and Syria.