Video: Iraqi, Kurdish forces retake Mosul Dam?

posted at 9:21 am on August 18, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Both Iraq and Kurdish Peshmerga forces have claimed a rare victory over ISIS this morning, the first in many months of setbacks and collapses. According to both, the Iraqi flag flies once more over the Mosul Dam, a critical piece of infrastructure and a potential time bomb that could kill as many as 500,000 Iraqis if destroyed:

Iraqi state television reported Monday that Iraqi national and Kurdish “peshmerga” forces had retaken the key Mosul dam from Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but the fighting didn’t appear to be over.

If confirmed, reclamation of the nation’s largest dam would be a hugely symbolic and strategic victory in the months-long battle against ISIS, which has wrested control of a vast swath of north and west Iraq and eastern Syria.

The reports on State TV quoted a spokesman for the Iraqi military, but peshmerga fighters told CBS News they were advancing on the dam complex slowly and cautiously amid concerns that ISIS fighters might have left behind IEDs or mines, and possibly rigged parts of the dam itself with explosives.

Fox News reports that they have confirmation from multiple sources that the whole dam has now been liberated from ISIS:

Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters have wrested control of the vital Mosul Dam, the largest in Iraq, from Islamic State militants, a senior official in the peshmerga forces told Fox News Monday.

Spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi told The Associated Press the troops were backed by aerial support, but he didn’t specify whether there were U.S. airstrikes during the battle, adding that the troops “fully liberated” the dam Monday and “hoisted the Iraqi flag over it.”

The retaking of the entire dam complex on the Tigris River and the territory surrounding its reservoir is a significant victory against the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS, which seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq this summer. It is the first major success for Iraqi and Kurdish forces since U.S. airstrikes began earlier this month.

The dam and its broader complex hold great strategic value as they supply electricity and water to a large part of the country.

The Associated Press was not quite as sanguine, and there are reports that control of the dam is still contested:

Boosted by two days of U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces on Monday wrested back control of the country’s largest dam from Islamic militants, a military spokesman in Baghdad said as fighting was reported to be underway for the rest of the strategic complex.

Soon after the news broke, the Islamic State group, which two weeks ago captured the Mosul Dam spanning the Tigris River just north of the city of Mosul, denied the claim, insisting it was still in control of the facility. …

Iraq’s Ministry of Defense said security forces “liberated a large part of the Mosul Dam” with the help of U.S. airstrikes, adding that forces are working to fully free the entire complex. U.S. Central Command would not immediately confirm any involvement.

However, a senior Kurdish commander told The Associated Press that his peshmerga forces had withdrawn from the dam complex on Monday afternoon because it was heavily rigged with explosives. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.

In an Internet statement, the Islamic State denied losing control of the dam, dismissing the government claim as “mere propaganda war.” The statement, which could not be independently verified, was posted on a website frequently used by the militants.

If the Kurdish and Iraqi forces have not yet taken control of the dam, it may be more dangerous than ever. Engineers have long had concerns about the stability of the dam even when no fighting takes place. If ISIS has booby-trapped the dam, it may not take much to destroy it and kill tens of thousands of Iraqis immediately, and maybe hundreds of thousands in a short period of time. When it comes to control of this particular facility, half-measures and partial victories won’t do.

Still, the sudden reversal of momentum comes as good news after months of horror in the Iraqi desert. ISIS hasn’t had too many setbacks in their sweep from Syria to almost the gates of Baghdad and Irbil. A few bloody noses, plus a new government in Baghdad, could have some of the Sunni tribal leaders looking for a better deal than their current one with the genocidal freaks of ISIS. The US air intervention should continue, and if this result holds up, shows that it should have started long before the Yazidis faced a genocide on Mount Sinjar.


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Fighting for the dam can easily lead to a catastrophe.

jake-the-goose on August 18, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Interesting how the muslim kurds waited until AFTER the Christians and Yazids had been ethnically cleansed from their area before going on the counter offensive. Same POS people as their arab cousins. Why folks around here love the kurds so much I will never understand.

abobo on August 18, 2014 at 9:27 AM

So the ISIS march to the United States to plant their abomination of a flag on our soil has been put on hold for a while?

Bishop on August 18, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Al Qaeda ISIS is on the run. All is well.”
/Obama

Bitter Clinger on August 18, 2014 at 9:37 AM

If you look at the history of ISIS terrorists, they do not fight a long lasting battle to avoid losses… When under pressure they withdraw from an area and then they regroup come back again to retake the same area when their enemies are weakened… They have done so many times in Syria. In the first few months of this year they lost a lot of territories to the Syrian rebels and did not fight for extended period of time in these territories because they were outgunned and outnumbered but when the rebels were weakened by Assad forces then ISIS terrorists came back and took a lot of these territories they lost earlier this year…

mnjg on August 18, 2014 at 9:40 AM

mnjg on August 18, 2014 at 9:40 AM

That tactic only works when ones adversary fails to follow through and finish the job.

dogsoldier on August 18, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Why the hell dn’t we bomb the back to the 7th century, which is where they belong and will feel comfortable?

Because Obama, who will “stand with the Muslim” for God’s sake.

IMPEACH!!!!

Mariadee on August 18, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Great for the peshmerga, they need to keep fighting those sub-human pieces of scum called ISIS.

I now await the obligatory Obama statement taking credit for the alleged Mosul Dam victory, followed by a much needed return to the golf course. After all, giving a speech and spending time having makeup applied to the face in preparation for the cameras takes a heavy toll and is quite stressful.

Aizen on August 18, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Foreign policy is foreign to his highness…..TARFU

crosshugger on August 18, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Anybody see the end of “Force 10 From Navarone”?

I don’t doubt some people are edgy if this is an Arnhem bridge situation.

So the ISIS march to the United States to plant their abomination of a flag on our soil has been put on hold for a while?

Bishop on August 18, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Don’t bet on it.

formwiz on August 18, 2014 at 10:22 AM

I hope that soon all the media can agree on the dam.

Cindy Munford on August 18, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Related: Ran across THIS video clip from MEMRI shwoing an Iraqi TV host’s tearful reaction to ISIS’ persecution of Christians.

JetBoy on August 18, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Which Muslims to believe?

BL@KBIRD on August 18, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Abobo, the Kurds had to resupply and rearm, you ignorant scumbag loser. An immediate counterattack would have been defeated. They lost a battle and the cleansing was an unfortunate consequence. It’s a good thing you aren’t advising them, Eisenhower.

The Grinch on August 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM

Which Muslims to believe?

BL@KBIRD on August 18, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Start with the ones that AREN’T chanting “Death to the Joos, Death to Americans..etc etc etc”…or working toward that goal.

So far, the majority of the Kurds don’t fall under that banner…ISIS/Hamas?…not so much.

BlaxPac on August 18, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Smart power >

everdiso on August 18, 2014 at 12:57 PM