Iraq says it seizes Mosul dam; militants deny it

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
76 PHOTOS
Iraqi Dam
See Gallery
Iraq says it seizes Mosul dam; militants deny it
Shiites volunteers, loyal to Muslim Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, take positions during a military advance in areas under the control of Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the town of Samarra, in Salaheddin provinceTikrit, on July 12, 2014. Iraqi forces and tribal fighters beat back a fresh assault by Sunni militants on the town of Haditha, strategic for the large nearby dam and its oil refinery, police said. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi troops monitors an area west of the shrine city of Karbala, in central Iraq on June 29, 2014. Iraqi forces pressed a campaign to retake militant-held Tikrit, clashing with Sunni fighters nearby and pounding positions inside the city with air strikes in their biggest counter-offensive so far. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED SAWAF (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty Images)
Kurdish Peshmerga forces raise the Kurdish flag at a checkpoint on the road leading from Kirkuk to northern Iraqi city of Tikrit on June 30, 2014. Ruthless jihadists spearheading a Sunni militant offensive in Iraq have declared an 'Islamic caliphate' and ordered Muslims worldwide to pledge allegiance to their chief, in a spectacular bid to extend their authority. AFP PHOTO/MARWAN IBRAHIM (Photo credit should read MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi Kurdish forces take position as they fight jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on June 29, 2014 in the Iraqi village of Bashir (Basheer), 20 kilometers south of the city of Kirkuk. Iraqi forces pressed a counter-attack on Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit as Russia delivered Sukhoi warplanes to aid Baghdad in what diplomats warn is an existential battle against Sunni militants. AFP PHOTO /KARIM SAHIB (Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi Kurdish forces take position as they fight jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on June 29, 2014 in the Iraqi village of Bashir (Basheer), 20 kilometers south of the city of Kirkuk. Iraqi forces pressed a counter-attack on Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit as Russia delivered Sukhoi warplanes to aid Baghdad in what diplomats warn is an existential battle against Sunni militants. AFP PHOTO /KARIM SAHIB (Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi soldier monitors a street west of the shrine city of Karbala, in central Iraq on June 29, 2014. Iraqi forces pressed a campaign to retake militant-held Tikrit, clashing with Sunni fighters nearby and pounding positions inside the city with air strikes in their biggest counter-offensive so far. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED SAWAF (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi soldier monitors a highway west of the shrine city of Karbala, in central Iraq on June 29, 2014. Iraqi forces pressed a campaign to retake militant-held Tikrit, clashing with Sunni fighters nearby and pounding positions inside the city with air strikes in their biggest counter-offensive so far. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED SAWAF (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi soldier monitors a street west of the shrine city of Karbala, in central Iraq on June 29, 2014. Iraqi forces pressed a campaign to retake militant-held Tikrit, clashing with Sunni fighters nearby and pounding positions inside the city with air strikes in their biggest counter-offensive so far. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED SAWAF (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi federal policemen stand guard at a checkpoint outside of Baghdad International Airport, Iraq, Saturday, June 28, 2014. Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships launched an operation early Saturday aimed at dislodging Sunni militants from the northern city of Tikrit, one of two major urban centers they seized in recent weeks in a dramatic blitz across the country. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
In this picture taken on Monday, June 30, 2014, a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter cleans his weapon on his position behind a dirt barrier built along the front line with militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Mariam Bek village, between the northern cities of Tikrit and Kirkuk, Iraq. Demonstrating their growing independence from the rest of Iraq, the largely-autonomous Kurdish regional government is setting up dirt barriers that they hope will ultimately set the borders of their future state. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
In this picture taken on Monday, June 30, 2014, a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter takes his position behind dirt barriers built along the front line with militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Mariam Bek village, between the northern cities of Tikrit and Kirkuk, Iraq. Demonstrating their growing independence from the rest of Iraq, the largely-autonomous Kurdish regional government is setting up dirt barriers that they hope will ultimately set the borders of their future state. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
In this picture taken on Monday, June 30, 2014, a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter stands on his position behind dirt barriers built along the front line with militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Mariam Bek village, between the northern cities of Tikrit and Kirkuk, Iraq. Demonstrating their growing independence from the rest of Iraq, the largely-autonomous Kurdish regional government is setting up dirt barriers that they hope will ultimately set the borders of their future state. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
In this picture taken on Monday June 30, 2014, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters position behind dirt barriers built along the front line with militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Mariam Bek village, between the northern cities of Tikrit and Kirkuk, Iraq. Demonstrating their growing independence from the rest of Iraq, the largely-autonomous Kurdish regional government is setting up dirt barriers that they hope will ultimately set the borders of their future state. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
FILE - This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq. The militants' capture of Iraq’s cities of Mosul and Tikrit makes their dream of a new Islamic state look more realistic. It already controlled a swath of eastern Syria along the Euphrates River, with a spottier presence extending further west nearly to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. In Raqqa, the biggest city it holds in Syria, it imposes taxes, rebuilds bridges and enforces the law _ its strict version of Shariah. (AP Photo/Iraqi0Revolution via AP video, File)
Smoke rises during airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants at the Mosul Dam outside Mosul, Iraq, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Boosted by two days of U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces on Monday wrested back control of the country's largest dam from Islamic militants, a military spokesman in Baghdad said, as fighting was reported to be underway for the rest of the strategic facility. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter prepares his weapon at his combat position near the Mosul Dam at the town of Chamibarakat outside Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Aug 17, 2014. Kurdish forces took over parts of the largest dam in Iraq on Sunday less than two weeks after it was captured by the Islamic State extremist group, Kurdish security officials said, as U.S. and Iraqi planes aided their advance by bombing militant targets near the facility. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
FILE - This Oct. 31, 2007 file photo, shows a general view of the dam in Mosul, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. The rapid advance of the Islamic State group, which captured Iraq's second largest city of Mosul and declared a self-styled Islamic Caliphate straddling the Iraq-Syria border, has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011. Experts say the strategy for capturing the dams is twofold. First, seizing dams and large reservoirs can be used as a military tactic. Flooding the terrain slows any possible encounters with military tanks and foot soldiers, giving the militants freedom of movement, if briefly. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2007 file photo, workers operate machines at a construction site on the dam in Mosul, northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. Residents living near Iraq's largest dam say Sunni militants from the Islamic State group have overrun the complex. The residents say the militants stormed the Mosul Dam complex in one hour on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed, File)
A private contractor who provides security for the U.S. State Dept. rides in a helicopter above the dam in Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005. The dam, which is the largest in Iraq, is an important source of drinking water and irrigation for the residents and farmers of the Nineva province. (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg)
Peshmerga fighter guard a position on front line of fighting with Islamic State (IS) militants 20 kilometres east of Mosul, on August 18, 2014. Kurdish peshmerga fighters backed by federal forces and US warplanes pressed a counter-offensive Monday against jihadists after retaking Iraq's largest dam, as the United States and Britain stepped up their military involvement. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Peshmerga fighter guard a position on front line of fighting with Islamic State (IS) militants 20 kilometres east of Mosul, on August 18, 2014. Kurdish peshmerga fighters backed by federal forces and US warplanes pressed a counter-offensive Monday against jihadists after retaking Iraq's largest dam, as the United States and Britain stepped up their military involvement. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Peshmerga fighters rest at a position on front line of fighting with Islamic State (IS) militants 20 kilometres east of Mosul, on August 18, 2014. Kurdish peshmerga fighters backed by federal forces and US warplanes pressed a counter-offensive Monday against jihadists after retaking Iraq's largest dam, as the United States and Britain stepped up their military involvement. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - AUGUST 17 : Iraqi forces patrol around Jurf al-Sakhar town in Iraqi province of Babil after Iraqi army announced a military operation against Islamic State (IS), formerly known as ISIL in Jurf al-Sakhar town on August 17, 2014. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters drive trucks as they head to the Mosul dam on the Tigris river that they recaptured from Islamic State jihadists on August 17, 2014 near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Peshmerga forces backed by US air strikes retook the country's largest dam, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Mosul, that jihadist militants seized the previous week, officials said. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters drive trucks with a machine gun mounted on the back as they head to the Mosul dam on the Tigris river that they recaptured from Islamic State jihadists on August 17, 2014 near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Peshmerga forces backed by US air strikes retook the country's largest dam, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Mosul, that jihadist militants seized the previous week, officials said. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters celebrate sitting on the back of a truck as they head to the Mosul dam on the Tigris river that they recaptured from Islamic State jihadists on August 17, 2014 near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Peshmerga forces backed by US air strikes retook the country's largest dam, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Mosul, that jihadist militants seized the previous week, officials said. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter prepares his weapon at his combat position near the Mosul Dam at the town of Chamibarakat outside Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Aug 17, 2014. Kurdish forces took over parts of the largest dam in Iraq on Sunday less than two weeks after it was captured by the Islamic State extremist group, Kurdish security officials said, as U.S. and Iraqi planes aided their advance by bombing militant targets near the facility. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, stand guard near Mosul Dam at the town of Chamibarakat outside Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Kurdish forces took over parts of the largest dam in Iraq on Sunday less than two weeks after it was captured by the Islamic State extremist group, Kurdish security officials said, as U.S. and Iraqi planes aided their advance by bombing militant targets near the facility. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community settle at a new camp outside the old camp of Bajid Kandala at Feeshkhabour town near the Syria-Iraq border, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The U.N. this week declared the situation in Iraq a "Level 3 Emergency" — a decision that came after some 45,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority were able to escape from a remote desert mountaintop where they had been encircled by Islamic State fighters. The extremist group views them as apostates and had vowed to kill any who did not convert to Islam. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community walk on the Delal bridge in Zakho, 300 miles (475 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The U.N. this week declared the situation in Iraq a "Level 3 Emergency" — a decision that came after some 45,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority were able to escape from a remote desert mountaintop where they had been encircled by Islamic State fighters. The extremist group views them as apostates and had vowed to kill any who did not convert to Islam. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Volunteers in the newly formed "Abbas Brigades" participate in a parade near the Imam Hussein shrine in the southern holy Shiite city of Karbala, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Ahmed al-Husseini)
Volunteers in the newly formed "Abbas Brigades" participate in a parade near the Imam Hussein shrine in the southern holy Shiite city of Karbala, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Ahmed al-Husseini)
Iraqi policemen and civilians inspect the site of a car bomb attack near a restaurant in the southeastern district of New Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. A string of attacks in and around the capital killed more than a dozen and wounded dozens. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters load missile launcher during the clashes with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters load missile launcher during the clashes with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep guard during the clashes with army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters load missile launcher during the clashes with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: A Kurdish peshmerga fighter performs prayer and other peshmergas load missile launcher to fight with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters load missile launcher during the clashes with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep guard during the clashes with army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters use missile to fight with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmergas fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters use missile to fight with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters load missile launcher during the clashes with the army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep guard during the clashes with army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Iraq in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Obama says he's authorized the U.S. military to carry out airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic militants if they advance toward the city of Erbil. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Iraqi Shiite volunteers who have joined government forces to fight Sunni jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) take part in a training session near the southern port city of Basra on August 7, 2014. A UN statement said some reports put the number of people forced to flee by the IS takeover at 200,000. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi Shiite volunteers who have joined government forces to fight Sunni jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) take part in a training session near the southern port city of Basra on August 7, 2014. A UN statement said some reports put the number of people forced to flee by the IS takeover at 200,000. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 6: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Rabia town, Mosul, Iraq on August 6, 2014. YPG members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire to howitzers and machine guns against ISIL during the clashes. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 6: Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) members fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Rabia town, Mosul, Iraq on August 6, 2014. YPG members and Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire to howitzers and machine guns against ISIL during the clashes. (Photo by Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 6: Kurdish peshmergas patrol in Mahmur area to prevent the attacks of army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 6 August, 2014. Peshmergas ditch the area that they deploy in order to stop army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (Photo by Sivan Siddik/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Islamic State group militants and Tribal fighters take control of a checkpoint that belonged to Kurdish peshmerga fighters, as people leave a village in the Khazer area outside Irbil, northern Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Late Wednesday, militants overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, sending tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters fleeing from the area, several priests in northern Iraq said Thursday. (AP Photo)
Islamic State group militants and Tribal fighters take control of a checkpoint that used to be controlled by Kurdish peshmerga fighters, as people leave a village outside Irbil, northern Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Late Wednesday, militants overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, sending tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters fleeing from the area, several priests in northern Iraq said Thursday. (AP Photo)
Islamic State group militants and Tribal fighters take control of a checkpoint that belonged to Kurdish peshmerga fighters, as people leave a village in the Khazer area outside Irbil, northern Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Late Wednesday, militants overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, sending tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters fleeing from the area, several priests in northern Iraq said Thursday. (AP Photo)
Islamic State group militants and Tribal fighters take control of a checkpoint that used to be controlled by Kurdish peshmerga fighters, as people leave a village in the Khazer area outside Irbil, northern Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Late Wednesday, militants overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, sending tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters fleeing from the area, several priests in northern Iraq said Thursday. (AP Photo)
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter stands guard as new equipment arrives at Kalak refinery on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq, Monday, July 14, 2014, as Kurdish authorities are trying to help ease the fuel shortage. Islamic militants have laid siege to Iraq's largest oil refinery in the city of Beiji. (AP Photo)
In this Thursday, July 3, 2014 photo, a woman from an elite unit of female Kurdish Peshmerga fighters trains in Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles (260 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq. Some Kurdish women living in Northern Iraq are training to be peshmerga, as the self-ruled Kurdish region's militia is known, to fight against the imminent threat of Islamic militants and to protect their land. (AP Photo)
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on their military vehicles drive towards the front lines of Mosul villages where they fight against al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the Khazer area between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Kurdish city of Irbil, northern Iraq, Wednesday June 25, 2014. Sunni insurgents who seized Iraq's second largest city attacked a nearby Christian village on Wednesday, bringing their fight closer to the largely Kurdish regions of northern Iraq which had remained so far largely untouched from the chaos sweeping the country. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on their military vehicles drive towards to the front lines of Mosul villages where they fight against al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the Khazer area between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Kurdish city of Irbil, northern Iraq, Wednesday June 25, 2014. Sunni insurgents who seized Iraq's second largest city attacked a nearby Christian village on Wednesday, bringing their fight closer to the largely Kurdish regions of northern Iraq which had remained so far largely untouched from the chaos sweeping the country. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter takes his position behind a wall on the front line with militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Tuz Khormato, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the oil rich province of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. A defiant Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected calls Wednesday for an interim "national salvation government" intended to undermine the Sunni insurgency by presenting a unified front among Iraq's three main groups, calling it a "coup against the constitution." (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
In this Tuesday, June 17, 2014 image taken from video obtained from British Broadcaster Sky, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Pehsmerga forces hold their weapons as they run on a street, near Jalula, Iraq. Kurdish security forces are engaged in gun battles with Sunni militants in the northern Iraqi town of Jalula, according to British Broadcaster Sky. Footage showed Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga using heavy artillery and rockets to attack militant positions on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Sky via AP video)
In this Tuesday, June 17, 2014 image taken from video obtained from British Broadcaster Sky, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Kurdish soliders aim their weapons towards positions held by fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant near Jalula, Iraq. Kurdish security forces are engaged in gun battles with Sunni militants in the northern Iraqi town of Jalula, according to British Broadcaster Sky. Footage showed Kurdish fighters known as peshmerga using heavy artillery and rockets to attack militant positions on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Sky via AP video)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 4: A general view of Mosul Dam which seized by Iraqi Peshmerga forces against the rising Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat in Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 4: Iraqi Peshmerga forces seize Mosul Dam against the rising Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat in Mosul, Iraq on August 5, 2014. (Photo by Hemn Baban/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Iraqi civilians gather the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
An Iraqi retrieves items from a destroyed shop the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
An Iraqi collects what he can from his destroyed shop the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Civilians inspect damages the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Civilians inspect damages the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Iraqi municipality workers clean streets the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Iraqi civilians gather the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Iraqi civilians make their way through damages the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
Iraqis make their way through damages the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday as the army announced that one of its airstrikes had killed tens of militants in the northern city of Mosul. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmergas fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MOSUL, IRAQ - AUGUST 8: Kurdish peshmerga fighters keep guard in a car during the clashes with army groups led by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul, Iraq on 8 August, 2014. (Photo by Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


BY SINAN SALAHEDDIN & VIVIAN SALAMA

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Backed by U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi and Kurdish forces on Monday wrested back control of the country's largest dam from Islamic militants, a military spokesman in Baghdad said, as fighting was reported to be underway for the rest of the strategic complex.

Soon after the news broke, the Islamic State group, which two weeks ago captured the Mosul Dam spanning the Tigris River just north of the city of Mosul, denied the claim, insisting it was still in control of the facility.

A U.S. defense official in Washington confirmed the Islamic State group has not entirely lost control of the Mosul Dam. "It's not over," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing military operations.

The retaking of the dam would mark the first major victory for the Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling the Islamic militants since U.S. airstrikes began earlier this month. However, the conflicting accounts that emerged Monday underscored the fluid nature of the situation as Kurdish and Iraqi forces try to reassert themselves after weeks of setbacks.

Retaking the dam could significantly boost their morale as they try to free territory overrun by the Islamic State in a blitz this summer. The dam and its broader complex hold great strategic value as they supply electricity and water to a large part of the country.

Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said the dam itself was secured by Kurdish peshmerga troops and Iraqi security forces on Monday but that the southern side of the complex remains contested and that fierce fighting is underway to free that area.

At least 170 bombs have been dismantled around the dam but many more remain, al-Moussawi added in a televised statement. He said that militants fled to areas near the south of the complex, hiding in homes and

Al-Moussawi said earlier Monday that the Iraqi and Kurdish forces "hoisted the Iraqi flag over" the dam. He added that the troops were backed by a joint aerial support but didn't specify whether there were any U.S. airstrikes in the area of the dam Monday.

Local residents and others in the area could not immediately be contacted to confirm the security forces' recapture of the dam.

Iraq's Defense Ministry said security forces "liberated a large part of the Mosul Dam" with the help of U.S. airstrikes, adding that forces are working to fully free the entire complex. In a statement, U.S. Central Command said it carried out 15 airstrikes near the dam Monday with fighter jets, bombers and drones.

However, a senior Kurdish commander told The Associated Press that his peshmerga forces had withdrawn from the dam complex on Monday afternoon because it was heavily rigged with explosives. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists.

In an online statement, the Islamic State denied losing control of the dam, dismissing the government claim as "mere propaganda war." The statement, which could not be independently verified, was posted on a website frequently used by the militants.

The U.S. launched airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq more than a week ago in a bid to halt its advance across the north. The U.S. military said U.S. forces conducted nine strikes Saturday and another 16 on Sunday.

The U.S. and France have agreed to arm Kurdish fighters - with the U.S. providing light weapons and ammunition. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius refused to specify the type of arms France would deliver, saying only they would be "sophisticated." The British and German governments have also stated their willingness to supply the Kurds with weapons.

The dam's seizure by Islamic State militants on Aug. 7 was part of a string of victories by the Sunni radical group as it looks to expand its hold in northern Iraq, driving back Kurdish forces, sending minority communities fleeing and unleashing a wave of violence over a territory straddling the Syria-Iraq border.

The decision to launch airstrikes marked the first direct U.S. military intervention in Iraq since the last American troops withdrew in 2011 and reflected growing international concern about the extremist group.

The White House sent a letter to Congress on Sunday saying that its air campaign in Iraq "is consistent with the president's directive that the U.S. military protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq, since the failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians and threaten U.S. personnel and facilities - including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad."

It also noted that the failure of the dam could "prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services" to the Iraqi people.

Some 1.5 million people have been displaced by fighting in Iraq since the Islamic State's rapid advance began in June. The scale of the humanitarian crisis prompted the U.N. to declare its highest level of emergency lasts week.

Iraq Security Forces, Kurdish Fighters Retake Control Of Mosul Dam


More from AOL.com:
Suspected Ebola patient dies in another country
Iraqi, Kurdish forces claim major victory
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners