U.S. aircraft continued their assault on Islamic State militants in Iraq on Thursday, conducting six airstrikes overnight to help solidify Iraqi and Kurdish forces' efforts to retake and maintain control of the Mosul Dam.
The Islamic State group had gained control of large swaths of western and northern Iraq and had taken the dam, but Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by a barrage of U.S. airstrikes were able to push the militants back and regain control of the dam.
U.S. officials say the strikes are part of an effort to create a safe perimeter around the dam. The military said the latest strikes destroyed or damaged three Humvees, multiple roadside bombs and another insurgent vehicle.
Control of the dam, Iraq's biggest, could give the armed radical group the ability to flood cities and cut off vital water and electricity supplies.
The Obama administration earlier this month launched an air strike campaign to protect U.S. personnel from the Islamic State and to ensure northern Iraq's minority Yazidis are not subject to systematic violence at the hands of the militants.
Iraq has been plunged into its worst violence since the peak of a sectarian civil war in 2006 and 2007. Islamic State-led fighters have overrun large parts of western and northern Iraq, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee for their lives and threatening ethnic Kurds in their autonomous province.
The Islamic State has also seized large parts of Syria as it tries to build a caliphate across national borders drawn up by Europeans a century ago.