News Middle East

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Recaptured dam 'a potential weapon of mass destruction'

Lizzie Dearden

Published 20/08/2014 | 02:30

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The banks of the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) northwest of Baghdad. Reuters
The banks of the Mosul Dam on the Tigris River in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) northwest of Baghdad. Reuters

LOSS of control of Iraq's largest dam could have proved "catastrophic".

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As well as providing water and electricity to Mosul, a city of 1.7 million, from its huge hydroelectric power station, the dam had the potential to be used as a weapon of mass destruction, according to American officials.

Analysis during the US occupation claimed a breach in the dam could unleash a 20 metre-high wave on Mosul and the Tigris River valley, wiping away anything in its path.

A letter to the Iraqi government warned that 500,000 people could be killed if the disaster occurred, calling it "the most dangerous dam in the world".

It would be foolish nonetheless to believe that the threat has been completely averted after Kurdish and Iraqi forces retook the dam from Islamic State (IS) fighters.

There has been numerous accounts of heavy fighting within the area.

But the Kurds and the US finally have something to be celebrate. Iraqi government forces put up little serious resistance when IS staged its June offensive, while Kurdish fighters also suffered humiliating setbacks.

"Our forces are advancing from two directions with cover from army helicopters, mortar and artillery shelling the positions of the Islamic State fighters in and around the city," an army major said yesterday.

As well as a push from the south, Iraqi forces were advancing from the west but progress was being hampered by landmines and roadside bombs planted by militants.

Although America has pledged to help the fight against IS, US President Barack Obama is adamant that ground troops will not be sent in. The fierce Western bombardment has prompted threats from Isis hinting at international terrorist attacks.

To prove the point, a video posted online showed footage of a US soldier apparently being killed by a sniper and a photo of an American beheaded during the Iraq occupation with the slogan: "We will drown all of you in blood".

British Prime Minister David Cameron has also been emphatic about avoiding involvement in a ground war. (© Independent News Service)

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