US airstrikes in Iraq in national security interest: White House

The American airstrikes against the Islamic State positions in Iraq is in national security interest of the US, the White House said on Sunday, a day after the Pentagon announced having conducted a series of airstrikes to defend the Haditha Dam in Anbar province.

PTI| Updated: Sep 07, 2014, 23:55 PM IST

Washington: The American airstrikes against the Islamic State positions in Iraq is in national security interest of the US, the White House said on Sunday, a day after the Pentagon announced having conducted a series of airstrikes to defend the Haditha Dam in Anbar province.

"Our actions, which are in the national security and foreign policy interests of the US, support Iraqi efforts to defend this critical infrastructure from ISIL (the Islamic State)," said Caitlin Hayden, Spokesperson of the National Security Council at the White House.

"Yesterday, at the direction of the President and in coordination with the Government of Iraq, the US military conducted airstrikes against ISIL positions in Iraq, in support of Iraqi Security Forces? efforts to retain control of and defend the critical infrastructure of the Haditha Dam in Anbar province," Hayden said.

The Haditha Dam is the second largest hydroelectric contributor to the power system in Iraq, and its destruction or release of water would create a level of flooding that would potentially pose a catastrophic threat to thousands of Iraqis along the Euphrates valley from Anbar province into parts of Baghdad, including possible flooding in areas in and around the Baghdad International Airport, where hundreds of US personnel reside, she said.

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said the airstrikes against ISIL in the vicinity of the Haditha Dam were conducted to prevent terrorists from further threatening the security of the dam, which remains under control of Iraqi Security Forces, with support from Sunni tribes.

"The strikes were conducted under authority to protect US personnel and facilities, support humanitarian efforts, and support Iraqi forces that are acting in furtherance of these objectives," he said.

"We will continue to conduct operations as needed in support of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Sunni tribes, working with those forces securing Haditha Dam. Sitting astride the Euphrates River, the Haditha Dam provides fresh water for millions of Iraqis, as well as their crops. It is the second largest hydroelectric contributor in the power system in Iraq," Kirby said.