US-led aircraft pound IS group with 23 air strikes

AFP , Saturday 25 Oct 2014

The US-led military coalition pounded the Islamic State group Friday and Saturday, with 23 air strikes in Iraq and one in Syria, the Pentagon said.

Eleven of the bombings in the heavy barrage targeted IS units, buildings, positions and vehicles near the strategic Mosul Dam, US Central Command, which is overseeing the air war against the jihadists, said in a statement.

The IS militants briefly held Mosul dam in August, but Kurdish forces and Iraqi army troops -- backed up by US air strikes -- succeeded in retaking the dam later that month.

The large dam in northern Iraq is a crucial piece of infrastructure and IS has repeatedly tried to seize it back.

The dam is the country's largest and, if destroyed or dismantled, it could unleash major flooding of the city of Mosul and the capital Baghdad.

A further four strikes hit near Fallujah, while others targeted Bayji, Qurayat al Hajjaj and other locations in Iraq.

These raids were carried out by US and coalition partners, using bombers, fighter jets, and unmanned drones.

The sole strike in Syria, near Kobane, destroyed an artillery piece, Centcom said, and was conducted by US aircraft.

"The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project power and conduct operations," Centcom said.

Kurdish forces, backed by US air power, have been holding out against an IS offensive around Kobane for weeks.

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