Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have launched a series of attacks in Iraq’s restive region, killing at least 23 people, including several Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers.
Sources told Al Jazeera that at least 16 Peshmerga soldiers were killed on Thursday trying to repel an ISIL attack on the Mosul Dam in Nineveh province.
The dam, located on the Tigris river, provides electricity to northwestern province of Anbar, which is under ISIL’s control.
In another attack, seven fighters from militias fighting against ISIL in Diyala Province were killed in the town of al- Mansuriya.
Meanwhile, in the flashpoint town of Sinjar, Peshemerga forces, backed by US-led coalition warplanes, stopped an attack on the town’s southwestern side. The ISIL fighters have since mostly been driven out of the area.
The capture of Sinjar by ISIL fighters and the plight of the mostly Yazidi population there was cited by President Barack Obama as one of the reasons for the US military intervention in Iraq.
US-led forces launched 12 air strikes against the group’s positions overnight on Wednesday, targeting tactical units, buildings and equipment used by the group, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement.
Despite nearly 5,000 bombs being dropped against the armed group, General John Allen, the US envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL, said more time and training was needed to retake ISIL’s stronghold of Mosul.
“We expect we will see the effectiveness of this force improve over time and we believe that they will be able to take back the population centres and municipalities,” Allen said.
ISIL spearheaded an offensive in June last year that overran Iraq’s second city Mosul and then swept through much of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland including three major cities.
Iraqi soldiers and police, Kurdish forces, Shia militias and Sunni tribesmen have succeeded in regaining some ground from ISIL. But large parts of the country remain outside Baghdad’s control.