A day after President Obama acknowledged that US military operations have moved beyond humanitarian assistance to support of a counter-offensive against the Islamic State, the Pentagon has pushed for airstrikes to be carried out in the west of Iraq as well as the north.
Officials said the strikes would help defend the Haditha Dam (pictured) against assaults by the jihadists.
Over the weekend, dozens of American aerial attacks helped Kurdish fighters recapture the Mosul Dam, Iraq’s largest, from the Islamic State.
Military officials say the Mosul Dam campaign could become the model for further operations — massive American air power with no regular US forces on the ground.
“No boots in combat and a successful mission turned out to be a good decision in this case,” said a senior military official. “Whether or not that can be sustained is another question.”
The comments by the officials, made to The Wall Street Journal, appear to be an attempt to swing the Administration behind the extension of operations. Others in the Government, including President Obama, are said to be reluctant to move beyond the strikes in the north.
The Journal article cites Shia politicians who back the expansion of the US attacks. Khaled Al Assadi said, “We need air force support, in addition to logistics and intelligence coordination. Iraq’s central government asked for this support and we expect this support to come soon.”
The article also claims, without evidence, that Sunni leaders in Anbar are calling for the American strikes.