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US ratchets up bombing campaign in Iraq; Kurds retaking parts of Mosul Dam.

I think that the bolded part (and bolding mine) is probably the most significant takeaway from this story:

Using a “mix of fighter, bomber, attack and remotely piloted aircraft,” the U.S. conducted 14 strikes against ISIS targets near the Mosul dam in northern Iraq.

The Sunday strikes were the first reported use of land-based bombers in the campaign. Previously, most of the strikes had been conducted by a mix of fighter jets and drones.

The strikes represented an uptick in the air campaign, which was initially authorized to help alleviate the humanitarian suffering by Yazidis stuck on Mt. Sinjar and protect U.S. personnel and property in Erbil.

…because that implies a decision to make strategic decisions involving combating ISIS.  Bombing jihadis at the Mosul Dam is an excellent idea; it’s also, as Time magazine notes, an expansion of the administration’s self-imposed mission for Iraq.

The operation makes military sense, but justifying it using the original two-prong test—Obama said Aug. 7 that the U.S. would attack targets in Iraq only “to protect our American personnel, and… to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death”—may prove too convenient.

“This policy of not dealing with it as an ecosystem I think is wrong,” Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CBS on Sunday. “[ISIS has] a long-term plan about where they’re going that would establish their caliphate from Beirut through Syria through Iraq.”

The bombing certainly seems to have had an effect. Kurdish forces reportedly captured at least part of the dam, and suddenly there’s been talk about advancing back to Mosul.  That latter part is just rhetoric, of course (which is not the same as saying that it won’t happen); and retaking Mosul (and the rest of ISIS-held territory) is also an excellent idea.  Whether it can be done with current forces in place has yet to be determined.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: The official excuse for the bombing?  Our embassy was in danger of flooding if ISIS blew up the dam.

“The failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, endanger U.S. personnel and facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace,” he wrote.

…Always nice to see somebody from this administration actually show signs of creativity and imagination. As sleazy rationalizations go, this one wasn’t half bad. Technically, it’s not even a lie.

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