ISIS Militants, Mosul
A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, on June 23, 2014. Reuters

A U.S. and Iraqi operation that aims to retake Mosul Dam from ISIS fighters began on Friday at 6 p.m. EST, according to a CNN report.

The operation, which is the first offensive since the United States began operating in Iraq two weeks, started with Iraqi and U.S. airstrikes complimented by Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces attacking ground positions.

Kurdish media reports claim the operation began early on Saturday morning local time with airstrikes hitting ISIS positions near the dam.

The dam has been under ISIS control since early August following fierce fighting in the area. The dam is the country’s biggest and sits north of the city of Mosul about 50 kilometers away (31 miles).

The operation comes after weeks of intense fighting that has seen large swathes of eastern and northern Iraq fall into the hands of ISIS, who aim to create an Islamic State.