President Obama hailed the recapture of Mosul dam today as a "major step forward" as a barrage of US airstrikes helped Kurdish and Iraqi forces score the biggest victory of its counteroffensive against the Islamic State militants. Obama also urged the badly fractured and largely dysfunctional Iraqi government to move quickly to forge a united front and give hope to Sunni tribes who've been marginalized. Obama noted last week's decision by Nouri al-Maliki to step down as Iraq's prime minister, a move that raised hopes a new government could roll back Iraq's powerful Sunni insurgency and prevent the country from splitting apart. "They've got to get this done because the wolf's at the door," the president said.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said the US had conducted 35 airstrikes in the area of the Mosul dam since Saturday: "In all, we destroyed over 90 targets including a range of vehicles, equipment, and fighting positions," he said. "Iraqi forces have cleared the dam and are working to further expand their area of control." US Central Command said American fighters, bombers, and drone aircraft conducted 15 strikes today around the dam, hitting Islamic State fighting positions as well as an anti-aircraft artillery gun and other weaponry of the group that has captured wide swaths northern and western Iraq this summer.