The United States launched a series of airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters on Sunday, Sept. 7.
According to the U.S. Central Command, the strikes destroyed five Humvees, one armed vehicle, a checkpoint and damaged a bunker.
In a statement by the Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, the United States carried out the attacks at Iraq’s request. The airstrikes occurred near Haditha Dam, a hydroelectric facility on the Euphrates River.
Since ISIS’s rise to power, this terrorist organization has tried on numerous occasions to take over the Haditha Dam, the second largest dam in Iraq. Currently, the dam is being protected by Iraqi security forces and Sunni Arab tribes. According to CNN, if ISIS were to take control, they would have the ability to stop the flow of water to millions of citizens in western and southern Iraq.
“We conducted these strikes to prevent terrorists from further threatening the security of the dam, which remains under control of Iraqi security forces — with support from Sunni tribes,” Kirby said.
Anbar Province Deputy Governor Faleh al-Issawi told CNN that the area attacked was being used by ISIS to launch mortar and bomb Haditha. Iraq contacted the United States with the fear that if one of the attacks hit the dam, the entire region could be impacted by severe flooding.
“Potential loss of control of the dam or a catastrophic failure of the dam — and the flooding that might result — would have threatened U.S. personnel and facilities in and around Baghdad,” Kirby said.
Caitlin Hayden, the National Security Council spokeswoman, also stressed the importance of protecting the Haditha Dam. In a recent statement, she said that “destruction of the dam or release of water would create a level of flooding that would potentially pose a catastrophic threat to thousands of Iraqis.”
In the meantime, the United States will continue to provide aid to Iraqi security forces in order to stop ISIS. According to the Associated Press, since the air campaign began, the U.S. military has conducted 138 airstrikes altogether.