Terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took over Iraq’s biggest dam unopposed by Kurdish fighters, who also lost three towns and an oilfield on Sunday to the Sunni militant group, witnesses said.
Reuters (h/t Maria J) Capture of the electricity-generating Mosul Dam, after an offensive of barely 24 hours, could give the Sunni militants the ability to flood major Iraqi cities or withhold water from farms, raising the stakes in their bid to topple Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government.
CP A catastrophic failure of the largest dam in Iraq would send a wave 65ft high hurtling down the valley of the river Tigris, killing up to 500,000 people, US engineers warned yesterday. “If a small problem [at] Mosul dam occurs, failure is likely.” The collapse of the two-mile long, earth-filled dam would release eight billion cubic metres of water in the lake behind it in a giant wave which would flood Mosul–a city of 1.7 million people 20 miles downstream–to a depth of 60ft.
“The terrorist gangs of the Islamic State have taken control of Mosul Dam after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces without a fight,” said Iraqi state television. The swift withdrawal of Kurdish “peshmerga” troops was an apparent severe blow to one of the only forces in Iraq that until now had stood firm against the Sunni Islamist fighters who aim to redraw the borders of the Middle East.
The Islamic State, which sees Iraq’s majority Shi’ites as apostates who deserve to be killed, also seized the Ain Zalah oil field – adding to four others already under its control that provide funding for operations – and three towns.