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Iraqi and Kurdish troops push for Tikrit after Mosul dam victory over Islamic State

20 August 2014

Iraqi and Kurdish troops are attempting to push their advantage against Islamic State jihadists yesterday,  after dislodging them from Mosul dam.

However, the continuing occupation of other parts of Mosul revealed the scale of the resources with the jihadists' and their military capabilities, The Telegraph reported.

The fight for controlling the strategically vital dam that provides water and electricity to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the region, came after the biggest coordinated offensive by Iraqi and Kurdish forces backed by US airforce jets against the insurgents.

Upbeat over the successes at Mosul dam, Iraqi officials said the troops and local tribesmen who had turned against the Islamic State, launched an offensive on Tikrit, the birthplace of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, 80 miles north of Baghdad.

The Islamic State had seized control of the Tikrit shortly after it took Mosul in June. Repeated efforts since then, to oust them, had failed.

The forces also attempted to secure territory west of the dam, where the Islamic State fighters were now grouped, less than three miles from the dam itself.

Iraqi politicians expressed hope that the gains this week would lead to a reversal of fortunes in which troops would be able push the Islamic State, whose loyalists were now in control of much of the country, out of Iraq altogether.

Qassim al-Moussawi, an Iraqi army spokesman said the war needed time, but Iraqi forces were determined to annihilate the Islamic State and to liberate all the areas they occupied.

Meanwhile, president Barack Obama was briefed on boosting military support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces in northern Iraq as signs of intensification of the conflict emerged.

According to the UK's ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant, Security Council members discussed US airstrikes and European humanitarian airdrops in Iraq following the 15-nation council slapping sanctions on Islamists and threatening to do the same to their financial backers overseas.

In London, UK prime minister David Cameron ruled out sending forces to Iraq but promised continued aid to IS victims - including the minority Yezidis and Christians who have borne the brunt of the group's holy violence.

Meanwhile, according to the Pew Research Center, Obama's decision-making over greater military support for Iraq's government or the autonomous Kurdish zone was expected to reflect US public opinion, which broadly supported the limited airstrikes.

Some 54 per cent of Americans say they approve of airstrikes against IS militants, and 31 per cent disapprove. While the public backs intervention, there is also there is concern (51 per cent) that the US will become too deeply involved in the war.

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