By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2014 – Airstrikes in Iraq have been extremely successful against terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters today.
"The airstrikes in support of Mount Sinjar -- the airstrikes and humanitarian drops were effective," he said. "The airstrikes that we conducted in support of Mosul Dam operations led to Iraqi forces retaking Mosul Dam. The airstrikes that we took in and around Amirli broke the back of the ISIL forces that were attempting to take Amirli. And now, over the weekend, these airstrikes conducted in support of Haditha Dam ... were tremendously effective."
"Certainly, ISIL forces realize that when American airpower is deployed, their chance of survival goes to nil," Warren said.
The decision to conduct airstrikes near Haditha Dam came after enemy forces were observed building up and moving heavier weapons into the area, he said.
"It became clear that they were potentially planning to increase the pressure on the Haditha Dam area," the colonel said. At the same time, Iraqi and Kurdish security forces had been reinforced and fortified their positions in the area, Warren added. "The time was right for a counterattack," he noted.
In response to a question about the reported deaths of ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and some of his advisors in an air strike, Warren said the U.S. has not conducted any targeted airstrikes against specific ISIL personnel.
"I hope he's dead. We certainly hope he's dead, but we haven't conducted any strikes against him," he said.
"With every terrorist that we kill from the air, that is one less terrorist on the ground," the colonel added.
The airstrikes have hurt ISIL's effectiveness, but the organization is still a threat, Warren said.
"The presence of American air power restricts their freedom of maneuver," he said. "... ISIL is beginning to realize that American air power is lethal and that, if they move, they'll be seen and destroyed."
A total of 10 nations have joined the fight against ISIL, Warren said. "I won't speak for any of those other nations and what their participation will be, but what I will say is that we welcome the participation of any nation in this critical fight against a legitimate terrorist organization.