TBLISI, Georgia (AP) — The U.S. military says it's launched airstrikes around Haditha Dam in western Iraq, targeting Islamic State insurgents for the first time in that area as the group tries to capture the vital dam.

U.S. officials say that while the Anbar Province dam remains in control of the Iraqis, the U.S. offensive is an effort to beat back militants who have been trying to take over key dams across the country.

Last month Islamic State fighters tried to capture the Haditha Dam, which has six power generators located alongside Iraq's second-largest reservoir. Iraqi forces backed up by local Sunni tribes were able to hold them off.

The Islamic State group was able to take control of the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq last month, but persistent U.S. airstrikes dislodged the militants.

(Story by: Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press)