Militants Seize Iraq's Largest Dam
Islamic State militants overtook Iraq’s largest dam, another oilfield, and three additional towns on Sunday, increasing their control of crucial natural resources and infrastructure while forcing many thousands of civilians to flee their homes.
“Capture of the Mosul Dam after an offensive of barely 24 hours could give the Sunni militants the ability to flood major Iraqi cities, sharply raising the stakes in their bid to topple Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government,” Reuters reports.
Kurdish forces had previously warned that they were struggling to defend the nearly 650-mile northern border they now share with the militants, according to the Washington Post.
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Speaking for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a UN official said Monday the fighting has triggered a “humanitarian crisis” and called on Iraqis to assist the displaced and work together to address “the urgent security needs of the nation.” Many refugees left on foot, and are now lacking food, water, medicine, and shelter.
The Mosul Dam, which harnesses the power of the Tigris River to provide electricity to the 1.7 million residents of Mosul — the city seized by Islamic State insurgents in June — is a key piece of infrastructure in the conflict-ridden region. In July, Foreign Policy correspondent Keith Johnson wrote that “Iraq’s hydroelectric facilities represent a soft underbelly in the fight against ISIS.”
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