Sunday, October 19, 2014

U.S. Steps Up Airstrikes in Iraq's Anbar Province

By on 10:18 PM

WASHINGTON—The U.S. said Sunday that it had expanded airstrikes in Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province, a stronghold of Islamic State militants.

U.S. warplanes struck a berm near the Fallujah Dam that American military officials said had been used by Islamic State militants to flood Shiite neighborhoods in East Fallujah. U.S. military officials said because the berm was used to flood canals and control downstream water supplies, it was a legitimate military target.

“Initial reports indicate the berm was destroyed, enabling water again to flow freely,” the U.S. military’s Central Command said.

In all, the U.S. struck 10 targets in Iraq and conducted 13 strikes in Syria on Saturday and Sunday. The strikes in Syria were conducted with allied fighter planes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. military said.

Over the weekend, the attacks by the U.S. and its coalition have intensified.

With strikes on the berm and additional oil refineries, the military has struck more and varied targets in both Iraq and Syria.

A senior military official said Sunday it is still possible the city could fall, though Islamic State militants don't have the advantage.

Despite the intensified strikes, Republicans continued their criticism of the administration.

A damaged police station is seen in the Anbar province town of Hit on Oct. 6. The U.S. said it has broadened its airstrikes in the region in an effort to defeat Islamic State militants. © Provided by The Wall Street Journal.
“The approach of the Obama administration has been fundamentally unserious,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas). “It has really been a photo-op foreign policy.”

Eleven of the strikes in Syria took place near Kobani, which has been the site of the most intense fighting with Islamic State militants in recent weeks. U.S. Central Command said those strikes hit 20 Islamic State fighting positions, five of the group’s vehicles and two buildings used by militants.

Other strikes in Syria were aimed at destroying the militant group’s financing, ruining its ability to collect, refine and transport crude oil. U.S. B-1 bomber aircraft, which fly from the American air base in Qatar, struck a modular oil refinery.

In Iraq, the U.S. also conducted additional strikes south of Beiji, the site of Iraq’s largest oil refinery. One strike south of the refinery destroyed an Islamic State check point.

Two other strikes hit what the U.S. military called a large Islamic State unit, an armored truck and a checkpoint. In addition, there were five airstrikes east of Fallujah on an Islamic State command post and large unit, the U.S. military said. Another strike hit west of the Mosul dam, destroying an ammunition truck, the military said.
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