WASHINGTON (AP) Following dozens of U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have recaptured Iraq's largest dam from the Islamist State group, handing the militants their first major defeat today since they swept across the country this summer.
President Barack Obama announced the development at the White House today, calling it a "major step forward" in the battle against the militant group.
The militants had seized the Mosul Dam on Aug. 7, giving them access and control of enormous power and water reserves and the ability to deny those resources to much of Iraq.
Obama said that a breach of the dam could have had catastrophic consequences and endangered U.S. Embassy personnel in Baghdad. He said the U.S. is urgently providing arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces as well as Kurdish fighters fighting the extremists.
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.