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Kurdish fighters, US warplanes in push to retake Mosul dam - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A Peshmerga soldier looks through binoculars from a position as he looks across a canal toward Islamist Jihadist positions south of the oil hub city of Kirkuk, Iraq, on August 17, 2014. (AFP Photo/Marwan Ibrahim)

A Peshmerga soldier looks through binoculars from a position as he looks across a canal toward Islamist Jihadist positions south of the oil hub city of Kirkuk, Iraq, on August 17, 2014. (AFP Photo/Marwan Ibrahim)

Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—Kurdish Peshmerga forces, supported by US airstrikes, mounted an attack on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters on Saturday, in a bid to retake Mosul dam, a high-ranking Kurdish Peshmerga officer told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Brig. Gen. Abdulrahman Korini of the Spilk Peshmerga, who is currently taking part in the battle for the dam, told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone that Peshmerga forces had successfully regained control of the eastern portion of the dam and were closing in on full control of the area.

He added that US airstrikes of ISIS positions in the dam area had continued for the second day running and had caused “many losses for ISIS” with “a great number of their fighters” killed.

He added that the US military was preparing for “strikes which will help retake the Nineveh plains area from ISIS control,” which he said would take place “very soon.”

Meanwhile, an official from the Peshmerga Ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) told Asharq Al-Awsat the Ministry had received weapons shipments from the US and France, as well as other forms of military assistance from other countries.

“The Peshmerga…received the weapons shipments, which included light and heavy weapons, and they have now been moved to the front-line battle areas with ISIS,” said the source, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity.

He added that the KRG was awaiting “additional weapons from friends, which will arrive very soon to Erbil.”

Meanwhile, Saeed Momozeini, a media spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party who is currently with Peshmerga forces, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “A [group] of Peshmerga forces entered Bashiqa [8 miles north-east of Mosul] and they have been able to undertake a number of operations in the area, killing four ISIS fighters, and then returning safely to their stations.”

He added that “US fighter jets hit ISIS fighters stationed in the Al-Hamdaniyah district in Nineveh,” and that the strikes had resulted in “the destruction of 30 Humvees which the group had hidden in anticipation of US airstrikes, but information gathered helped find their location.”

The US strikes have come in response to the advance of ISIS across Iraq and its treatment of minorities such as the Yazidis, thousands of whom remain trapped in the Sinjar Mountains region of the country. There have been unconfirmed reports of mass beheadings of Yazidi men, and reports that many Yazidi women have been sold or taken as slaves by ISIS.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, a Yazidi priest said that some Yazidis had taken desperate measures to ensure the safety of the women.

“Some members of Arab tribes had bought Yazidi women and girls from ISIS in Mosul,” he said, adding: “The sale occurred when Yazidi figures asked members of the tribes to purchase the Yazidi girls from ISIS at any price.” Some of the women were now safe and had already contacted their relatives to assure them of their safety, he said.