Isis Closes Ramadi Dam Gates, Cutting Off Water To Pro-Government Towns

From The Guardian:
Iraqis trying to escape from Isis in Ramadi cross the Bzibz bridge, in south Fallujah, on their way to Baghdad in late May. Photograph: Xinhua /Landov / Barcroft Media/Xinhua /Landov / Barcroft Media 
Islamic State jihadis have closed the gates of a dam in the Iraqi city of Ramadi that they seized last month, posing a humanitarian and security threat, officials have said.

Isis fighters have repeatedly sought to control dams in Iraq, in some cases reducing the flow of water to areas under government control or flooding swathes of land to impede military operations.

The Anbar provincial council chief, Sabah Karhout, said Isis “closed all the gates” at a dam in Ramadi, which is the capital of Iraq’s largest province.

The move lowered the level of the Euphrates river and cut water supplies to the areas of Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah to the east, which are some of the last held by pro-government forces in Anbar.

The lower water level has also made it easier for Isis to carry out attacks, Karhout said.

He called for the dam to either be quickly retaken or targeted in an air strike.

“Cutting the water to Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah will lead to a major humanitarian crisis not only in these areas” but also farther south, said sheikh Rafa al-Fahdawi, a leader in the Albu Fahad tribe, which is fighting Isis.

Aoun Dhiyab, a former head of the Iraqi water resources department and an expert in water issues, said: “The goal of [Isis] is not to cut the water but to reduce the level, to take advantage of it for military purposes.

“When the water level is reduced it allows them to infiltrate from Ramadi to Khalidiyah and then easily move to other areas.”

Iraqi forces have launched a counteroffensive to try to recapture Ramadi but have so far either stopped on the city’s outskirts or focused efforts on severing jihadi supply lines.

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