Reports: U.S. launches airstrikes to retake Iraqi dam

U.S. airstrikes targeted the area near Mosul Dam on Saturday in an effort to drive out Islamic State militants who took control of the nation's largest dam earlier this month, CNN and NBC News reported.

Halgurd Hekmat, a spokesman for Kurdish security forces, said U.S. airstrikes inflicted "great losses" on the militants, CNN reported. U.S. military officials told NBC News that FA-18 fighter bombers and armed drones were involved in the strikes and were offering cover to Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground.

The Islamic State group seized the dam on the Tigris River on Aug. 7.

The U.S. began launching airstrikes in Iraq last week with the goal of halting the advance of the Islamic State across the country's north, and protecting tens of thousands of Yazidis, a religious minority who fled the area as militants began forcing people to convert to Islam or be killed.

The developments came a day after reports emerged that 80 Yazidis were massacred and dozens of women taken captive by the Islamic extremists after the militants took the village of Kocho, according to multiple media outlets citing Yazidi and Kurdish officials.

Yazidi lawmaker Mahma Khalil said Saturday that the fighters gave the Yazidis a deadline to convert to Islam.

"When the residents refused to do this, the massacre took place," he said.

Speaking to Reuters, Senior Kurdish official Hoshiyar Zebari gave a similar account.

"They arrived in vehicles and they started their killing this afternoon," he said. "We believe it's because of their creed: convert or be killed."

Meanwhile, the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution Friday that aims to weaken the Islamic State by sanctioning six people — described as the groups financiers and weapons suppliers — who will be banned from traveling and have their assets frozen.

"This resolution demonstrates the Council's sense of urgency and its willingness to take concrete action against those who carry the guns, and those who supply them," Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. said in a statement. "Unchecked, the current terrorist financing and the foreign fighter recruitment networks will only prolong the terror we've seen unleashed in the region."

Contributing: The Associated Press


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