Sunday, December 06, 2015

IRAQ - Mosul Dam at risk of collapse

DOHUK, Kurdistan Region— The Mosul Dam is at risk of collapsing in several areas and the safety of Iraq’s second largest city is at risk, said the director of the dam, who is calling for urgent action. “If it collapses, most of the city of Mosul will be flooded and up to half a million people could immediately be endangered,” Riyaz Izzadin, the dam director, told Rudaw on Wednesday. Izzadin said last year’s airstrikes and clashes between Peshmerga forces and Islamic State militants have “substantially” damaged parts of the dam, which stretches 3 kilometers and towers 113 meters. It provides the city of Mosul 750 megawatts of power. 

 “The US personnel are frequently visiting the dam and are well aware of the dangers, but they don’t want to say it to us openly,” Izzadin said, adding that it could trigger panic among residents in Nineveh province. The multi-ethnic city of Mosul is home to 660,000 people, while the urban population of the province ranges from 750,000 to 1.5 million, according to United Nations data. 

More than 400,000 Kurds live in the province. Located 50 kilometers north of the city on the Tigris River, Mosul’s dam is the largest in Iraq and fourth largest in the Middle East. It was completed in 1986 after decades of preparation and construction at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. 

ISIS militants captured the dam in August 2014 when they overran the city of Mosul and its surrounding villages. Peshmerga forces, backed by US airpower, retook control of the dam after days of clashes later in August. A Kurdish commander in charge of security at the dam said ISIS still hopes to gain control of the dam as it provides their captured territories electricity. “The militants attacked our positions at the dam just recently and killed 6 Peshmerga soldiers,” Lt. Jamal Mahmoud told Rudaw. He said he is suspicious of local people collaborating with ISIS. “We give them electricity, they give us bullets,” Mahmud said.

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