US airstrikes at Mosul Dam likely offensive in nature
US Central Command issued a press release on US airstrikes against the Islamic State in northern Mosul on Saturday; the full press release is below:
US military forces continued to attack ISIL [Islamic State] terrorists in Iraq Saturday (Iraq time), with a mix of fighter and remotely piloted aircraft successfully conducting airstrikes near Irbil and the Mosul Dam.
US Central Command conducted these strikes under authority to support humanitarian efforts in Iraq, as well as to protect US. personnel and facilities.
The nine airstrikes conducted thus far destroyed or damaged four armored personnel carriers, seven armed vehicles, two Humvees and an armored vehicle.
All aircraft exited the strike areas safely.
The US airstrikes near the Mosul Dam on Saturday were likely offensive in nature, in support of the Kurdish Peshmerga attempting to retake the strategic dam. A senior Kurdish commander has said as much.
Islamic State fighters at the Mosul Dam are neither directly threatening US personnel in Irbil, nor are they impeding the humanitarian mission on Mount Sinjar.
If the US military is going on the offensive against the Islamic State in northern Iraq to support the Peshmerga retaking areas lost in early August, then the US government should say as much. President Obama has stated that the US would not reengage in Iraq except to protect US personnel and support relief operations on Mount Sinjar. If the mission has changed, the American public should be given an explanation as to why.
Updated Aug. 18
President Obama issued a War Powers Resolution Authorization letter to Congress yesterday, the full text is below. The administration claims that possible destruction of the dam could threaten US personnel in Baghdad. Keep in mind that the Islamic State controls several dams in Iraq and Syria, and has yet to destroy one, likely because it views the infrastructure as critical to running its state. However the Mosul Dam is in disrepair.
On August 14, 2014, I authorized the U.S. Armed Forces to conduct targeted air strikes to support operations by Iraqi forces to recapture the Mosul Dam. These military operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to support the Iraqi forces in their efforts to retake and establish control of this critical infrastructure site, as part of their ongoing campaign against the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace. Pursuant to this authorization, on the evening of August 15, 2014, U.S. military forces commenced targeted airstrike operations in Iraq.
I have directed these actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. These actions are being undertaken in coordination with the Iraqi government.
I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.