In mid-August, Anbar Province Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi announced a deal with the United States that would involve the US expanding its war on ISIS into that province.
Today, the expansion began, with the first US airstrikes launched in the area around Haditha Dam, and Pentagon officials saying the strikes are aimed at assuring government control of the significant hydroelectric dam.
ISIS has seized most of Anbar Province since January, and has attacked the areas around Haditha Dam, without successfully taking the dam itself yet. The Iraqi military is launching a ground offensive to coincide with the US strikes.
Iraq’s largest province, Sunni-dominated Anbar’s major cities were in more or less full revolt before ISIS even started amassing territory there, angered by the Maliki government’s crackdowns.
Haditha dam is on the outskirts of Haditha, the city that was the site of the 2005 Haditha massacre, in which US Marines killed 24 Iraqi civilians. The governor’s reports of a planned US return, both with airstrikes and eventually a potential ground operation, has needless to say been met with trepidation by locals.
The strikes in Anbar are the first time the US air war has focused on territory primarily sought by the Iraqi military, as previous strikes had centered on the Kurdish frontier, and territory sought primarily by Peshmerga fighters. Iraqi officials had pushed for this, claiming it was unfair that the US war had so far focused on the Kurds.
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