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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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Kurdish forces and US jets reportedly retake Mosul Dam from Islamic fighters

Complete control of the Mosul Dam

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BAGHDAD, Iraq - Supported by US airstrikes Sunday, Kurdish forces innorthern Iraq have reported that they are in near complete control of the Mosul Dam, the largest dam in the country, which was captured by ISIS militants the week before last.

The mission to recapture the dam was launched early Sunday by Kurdish ground forces, with the US carrying out intensive airstrikes on ISIS militant positions that helped fighters advance rapidly.

While they have now captured much of the dam, Kurdish officials said Sunday they are stillclearing mines and booby traps from the area round the dam, a process which could take several hours.

The US launched supportive airstrikes off of the US aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which is stationed in the Arabian Gulf. US officials have said that they've damaged or destroyed 19 vehicles belonging to ISIS militants as well as a checkpoint in strikes round the dam on Sunday.

Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd who until last month was Iraq's foreign minister, hailed the recapture of the dam was a great victory that was achieved under what he described as "fierce resistance".

Zebari told journalists Sunday that the next challenge was to clear the militants from theNineveh plain "to ensure the return of minorities".

Minority groups such as the Yazidi have fled the area in tens of thousands due to fears of a genocide by the ISIS militants, who have warned them to convert to Islam or be killed. There were reports over the weekend that a massacre of more than 80 people had already occured.

The recapture of Mosul Dam was seen as a vital mission in Iraq and the US' attempts to halt the march of ISIS militants, who have captured large parts of northern Iraq. The dam is a key piece of infrastructure supplying water and electricity to northern Iraq.

If the reports of the dams recapture can be verified, it will mark the largest military reversal for ISIS since they launched their Iraq offensive effort in June. There had been widespread concerns that the militants might destroy the dam, creating a massive flood that would hit Mosul as well as Baghdad, but the US confirmed Saturday it did not believe militants had the capacity to blow up the dam.

While the battle for the dam raged through Sunday, western states have been airliftinghumanitarian aid to refugees, many of whom have found shelter in the Kurdish region. Some 80,000 Yazidis are at risk, while more than 1.2-million Iraqis have been left homeless.

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