WASHINGTON (AP) — Following dozens of U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have recaptured Iraq's largest dam from the Islamist State group, handing the militants their first major defeat today since they swept across the country this summer.
President Barack Obama announced the development at the White House today, calling it a "major step forward" in the battle against the militant group.
The militants had seized the Mosul Dam on Aug. 7, giving them access and control of enormous power and water reserves and the ability to deny those resources to much of Iraq.
Obama said that a breach of the dam could have had catastrophic consequences and endangered U.S. Embassy personnel in Baghdad. He said the U.S. is urgently providing arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces as well as Kurdish fighters fighting the extremists.
Obama also urged the badly fractured and largely dysfunctional Iraqi government to move quickly to forge a united front and give hope to Sunni tribes who've been marginalized.
192-a-06-(President Barack Obama, with reporters)-"city of Mosul"-President Obama says there's been a big victory in Iraq. (18 Aug 2014)
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193-a-11-(President Barack Obama, with reporters)-"compound in Baghdad"-President Obama says Iraqi and Kurdish fighters have retaken the Mosul Dam, which militants captured earlier this summer. (18 Aug 2014)
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200-a-16-(President Barack Obama, with reporters)-"credible united government"-President Obama says the dysfunctional Iraqi government needs to unite and defeat the militants. (18 Aug 2014)
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191-w-35-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP national security correspondent, with President Barack Obama)--President Barack Obama is hailing what he calls a major step forward by Iraqi and Kurdish forces. AP National Security Correspondent Sagar Meghani reports from the Pentagon. (18 Aug 2014)
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APPHOTO WHCD106: President Barack Obama speaks in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Taking a two-day break from summer vacation, President Barack Obama met with top advisers at the White House Monday to review developments in Iraq and in racially charged Ferguson, Missouri, two trouble spots where Obama has ordered his administration to intervene. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (18 Aug 2014)
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