U.S. warplanes carried out four strikes on Islamic State (IS) insurgents menacing Iraq’s Haditha dam on Sunday, witnesses and officials said, widening what President Barack Obama called a campaign to curb and ultimately defeat the jihadist movement.
Mr. Obama has branded Islamic State an acute threat to the West as well as Middle East and said that key NATO allies stand ready to back Washington in action against the well-armed sectarian force, which has seized expanses of northern Iraq and eastern Syria and declared a border-blurring religious caliphate.
The leader of a pro-Iraqi government paramilitary force in western Iraq said the air strikes wiped out an Islamic State patrol trying to attack the dam — Iraq’s second biggest hydroelectric facility that also provides millions with water.
The aerial assault drove Islamic State fighters away from the dam, according to a police intelligence officer in the vast western province of Anbar, a hotbed of Islamist insurgency.
The strikes were Washington’s first reported offensive into Anbar since it started attacks on Islamic State forces in the north of Iraq in August.
Mr. Obama said at the weekend he would explain to Americans this week his plan to “start going on some offense” against Islamic State.
Arab League backing
Arab Foreign Ministers, meeting in Cairo, were set to issue a resolution on Sunday backing Iraqi and U.S. efforts to confront IS insurgents.
Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi told the opening session that the rise of the group in Iraq challenged not merely the authority of the state but “its very existence and the existence of other states”, and called for a clear and decisive resolution to confront terrorism militarily, politically, economically and culturally.