For the second time this month, U.S. airstrikes have helped free thousands of Iraqis under threat from ISIS.
The 20,000 residents of Amerli are predominantly Turkmen Shi'ites — yet another minority group ISIS considers heretic. For over two months, they’ve had limited access to food, water or medical supplies. (Video via Sky News)
That all changed Sunday when U.S. airstrikes, The Washington Post says, “appeared to swiftly tilt the balance in favor of Iraqi government forces,” clearing the way for Iraqi forces to break the siege and drive out the militants.
Since dropping their weapons and fleeing from ISIS militants back in June, the Iraqi army — backed by Kurdish and volunteer fighters — appear to have gained back some of the momentum they lost.
Earlier this month, they secured another key victory — retaking Iraq’s largest dam from the militants. (Video via NBC)
Michael Knights of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy tells CNN, as its enemies become better coordinated, ISIS could find itself stretched thin.
"As a defensive force, the ISIS may struggle to hold terrain if it is attacked simultaneously at multiple points or if its auxiliary allies begin to defect.”
But Middle East commentator Juan Cole cautions against jumping to any conclusions. “Amerli, though, may not tell us so much about the battles to come. It is a largely Shiite town, so the esprit de corps of the Iraqi Army and the Shiite militias was bucked up by the prospect of rescuing it.”
In coordination with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the U.S. conducted five airstrikes near the Mosul Dam Sunday, destroying an ISIS vehicle and fighting position, along with weapons. (Video via U.S. Central Command)