IS ‘Cleared’ From Key Iraq Dam Area

iraqIraqi government forces said they have cleared Islamic State (IS) militants from a wide area around the strategic Haditha dam, helped by US air strikes.

The jihadists have repeatedly tried to capture the dam on the River Euphrates, in the western province of Anbar.

The US air strikes were the first to have taken place outside northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s parliament is scheduled to convene later on Monday to vote on Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi’s proposed government.

The make-up of the cabinet has not been revealed, but Mr Abadi is expected to include representatives of all religious and ethnic factions.

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Irbil says that should ease tensions between the Shia Arab majority and the Sunni Arab and Kurdish communities, which accused the outgoing administration of pursuing sectarian policies.

Rafid Jaboori reports from the hall where the new Iraqi government will be inaugurated

It should also allow the US to step up its military assistance, which has been conditional on the formation of a unified and inclusive government.

The leader of a pro-Iraqi government Sunni Arab tribal militia in western Iraq, Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, said the air strikes around the Haditha dam had wiped out an IS patrol trying to attack the dam.

“They were very accurate. There was no collateral damage. If Islamic State had gained control of the dam, many areas of Iraq would have been seriously threatened, even Baghdad,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Iraqi forces then launched a “wide attack” against militants to clear the areas surrounding the Haditha district, military spokesman Lt Gen Qassem Atta told the AFP news agency.



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