Sunday 23 April 2017

Race to retake Syrian dam before it bursts

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) inspect the Tabqa dam, which has been partially recaptured. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) inspect the Tabqa dam, which has been partially recaptured. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Josie Ensor

US-backed forces in Syria are rushing to retake its biggest dam from Isil, amid warnings it could collapse within 30 days.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were air-dropped by the US just south of the Euphrates river last week in an effort to secure the Tabqa Dam. They inched nearer yesterday, retaking a strategic air base close by.

The dam, which has been in Isil hands for two years, was put out of service last Sunday by fighting. Water levels behind the structure have now risen enough to put it at risk of collapse. Isil issued a statement ordering residents of Tabqa and nearby Raqqa to leave, blaming US air strikes.

And the UN has also warned that damage to the dam, which supplies electricity to much of Syria, could lead to "massive scale flooding" across Raqqa and three other major Syrian cities downstream.

SDF forces do control a spillway to the north which can alleviate pressure on the dam if needed. But Haytham Bakkour, an engineer at the dam for 10 years, said the situation was "critical" and he warned that unless it was made safe for staff to get in to manoeuvre the floodgates, there could be a "critical overflow" within 30 days. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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