Allies battle ISIS for Dam that will send 45-foot wave killing 1.5MILLION people devastating Mosul and flooding Baghdad
- The Mosul Dam is holding back a massive 11trillion litres of water from the city
- The dam was built on an unstable foundation that continuously erodes
- Weakened when ISIS seized it briefly in 2014 prompting maintenance lapse
- Fears collapse cold unleash 45ft waves devastating Mosul and flooding Baghdad
Allied troops and ISIS are set to battle for a collapsing dam that would spew nearly 600 times the water of the River Thames onto Mosul if it breaches.
Engineers from an Italian company have been tasked with fixing the Mosul Dam’s foundations to stop more than 11 trillion litres of water (11.11billion cubic metres) from flooding Mosul.
Experts are warning their work could be in vain, and should the catastrophe happen, it is estimated 1.5million people could be killed by the floods in an impact described as ‘worse than a nuclear bomb’.
Waves of up to 45ft would be unleashed if the dam breaks, and the equivalent to 4.4million Olympic size swimming pools would flood the surrounding areas amid a constant threat from Islamic State terrorists fleeing the Iraqi city.
An aerial shot of the Mosul Dam showing the 11billion litres of water it is holding at bay
Experts have stated that waves of up to 45ft would be unleashed if the dam breaks
A bottom outlet for the Mosul Dam controls the water flow, but the foundations are crumbling
This satellite image of the Mosul Dam from February 11, 2007 was coupled with an audit report stating nine years ago it was risk of collapse
The Mosul Dam on the Tigris River, around 50 km north of the Iraqi city of Mosul, which would be flooded catastrophically should the structure collapse
Engineers from Italian firm TREVI have 18 months to solidify the dam, which is located 60km north of Mosul.
But professor of water resources and environmental engineering at Lulea University in Sweden has said the structure is doomed regardless of who has control of it.
‘No matter how much grouting and maintenance the company will do, it may expand the life span of the dam, but it is just going to delay the disaster.
‘It is just a matter of time. It will be worse than throwing a nuclear bomb on Iraq,’ he told Al Jazeera.
The Mosul Dam is holding back the equivalent to 585 times the water in the River Thames at any one time
11billion litres would flood Mosul if the dam were to collapse – the equivalent to one and a half Loch Ness’
Meanwhile, some 250 miles away, a battle for another Middle Eastern dam is imminent.
Kurdish troops are now just three miles from the Euphrates Dam in Syria, which is under Islamic State control.
Talal Sillo of the Syria Democratic Forces said the fighters, with the support of US, French and British special forces, have driven IS from dozens of villages and farms in recent days and now have the strategic dam in their sites.
Unlike Mosul Dam, the structure near Raqqa is nowhere near as treacherous as the its Iraqi counterpart.
Mosul Dam collapsing would be seen as a ‘humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions’ and could kill 1.5million people, a US ambassador warned earlier this year.
Governments were urged in March to move quickly to prevent a breach of Iraq’s largest dam, which would unleash a wave as high as 45ft, devastating Mosul and flooding much of the capital Baghdad.
After hosting a meeting with Iraq’s UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim to hear briefings on the potential disaster, US Ambassador Samantha Power called on all UN member states to take immediate steps.
‘It is crucial that all UN member states quickly get informed about the magnitude of the problem and the importance of readiness to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions,’ said Power.
If the dam, pictured here, were to breach, waves of up to 45ft would hit the surrounding areas
Italian engineers are desperately trying to fix the Mosul Dam and have been given 18 months to do so
The ambassador described briefings by technical experts, engineers and representatives from UN aid and development agencies as ‘chilling.’
The dam in northern Iraq was built on an unstable foundation that continuously erodes, and a lapse in required maintenance after the Islamic State jihadist group briefly seized it in 2014 weakened the already flawed structure.
‘In the event of a breach, there is the potential in some places for a flood wave up to 14 meters high that could sweep up everything in its path, including people, cars, unexploded ordnance, waste and other hazardous material, further endangering massive population centres that lie in the flood path,’ said Power in a statement released by the US mission.
After six months of planning, the Italian company were given the $300million contract which is funded by World Bank to attempt to save the lives of those living near the Tigris river.
The dam in northern Iraq was built on an unstable foundation that continuously erodes, and a lapse in required maintenance after ISIS briefly seized it in 2014 weakened the already flawed structure
Kurdish Peshmegra forces guard the dam, which is in an area close to land controlled by ISIS fighters
The engineers are guarded in the war-torn city by 500 soldiers from Italian and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, according to Al Jazeera.
They are tasked with injecting cement mix into the foundations in a process called grouting.
A European Commission’s Science Centre study published last year stated seven million Iraqis could be affected by floods from the dam.
The political battle for Syria’s dam
Kurdish-led fighters are approaching a strategic dam controlled by Islamic State in northern Syria after days of fighting that killed a senior IS military commander, a spokesman for the US-backed forces said.
Talal Sillo of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) said the fighters, with the support of US, French and British special forces, have driven IS from dozens of villages and farms in recent days and are about three miles from the Euphrates Dam.
The SDF, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, has been on the offensive in Raqqa province since early November, advancing with the aid of US-led air strikes.
The operation is aimed at encircling and eventually retaking Raqqa, the de facto capital of the extremist group’s self-declared caliphate.
The city is home to nearly 200,000 mostly Sunni Arabs and an estimated 5,000 IS fighters.
‘The ongoing operation is the second phase west of Raqqa,’ Mr Sillo said, adding that the first phase was north of the city. ‘More phases will come later to isolate the city and then to begin liberating it.’
The capture of the dam, which controls the flow of water to parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq, would deal a major blow to the extremist group, which has held the facility for more than two years.
Behind the dam lies Lake Assad, which at 250 square miles is Syria’s largest reservoir.
Both sides claim to have inflicted heavy casualties on the other.
The IS-linked Aamaq news agency reported on Monday that 24 SDF fighters were killed in the area, while Mr Sillo said his forces had killed dozens of extremists.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fate of a senior IS military commander known as Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti is still unknown after he was targeted by US-led coalition aircraft. The Syrian army said he was killed fighting in the Tabqa area near the dam. IS supporters on social media confirmed he was killed.
US Central Command said that coalition aircraft conducted nine strikes near the city of Raqqa on Monday that engaged three ISIS tactical units, destroying vehicles rigged with explosives, a bridge, a fighting position, and a supply cache.
It said two air strikes near the Ein Issa area north of Raqqa hit two ISIA tactical units and destroyed two fighting positions.
Mr Sillo said that in recent days the SDF has captured 500 square miles. He said the next target is the town of Tabqa, home to a military base where IS fighters killed scores of captured Syrian troops in 2014.
He said the fighting on Tuesday was concentrated near Jaabar castle on Lake Assad, after the SDF captured the nearby village of Jaabar.
The US-backed SDF is made up of several Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen and Christian groups that have captured wide areas of northern Syria from IS over the past year.
The largest and most powerful groups in the coalition are the main Kurdish militias known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, and the Women’s Protection Units, or YPJ.
The SDF is seen as the most effective ground force battling ISIS in Syria.
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