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UN report warns of catastrophic flooding if dam bursts Syria

Tabqa dam
Tabqa dam

The United Nations warned yesterday of catastrophic flooding in Syria from the Tabqa dam near Raqqa, which is at risk from high water levels and deliberate sabotage by Daesh and further damage from airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

The dam holds back the Euphrates River 40 kilometres upstream of the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa and has been controlled by the militant group since 2014.

According to a UN report, water levels on the river have risen by about ten meters since 24 January, partly due to heavy rainfall and snow and partly due to Daesh opening three of the dam’s gates, flooding riverside areas downstream.

“As per local experts, any further rise of the water level would submerge huge swathes of agricultural land along the river and could potentially damage the Tabqa Dam, which would have catastrophic humanitarian implications in all areas downstream,” it said.

The United Nations said in its report that the entrance to the dam was already damaged by the US-led coalition’s airstrikes.

“For example, on 16 January 2017, airstrikes on the western countryside of [Raqqa] impacted the entrance of the Euphrates Dam, which, if further damaged, could lead to massive scale flooding across [Raqqa] and as far away as Deir ez-Zor.”

The UN has also warned of the danger of a collapse of the Mosul dam on the Tigris River in Iraq, which could affect 20 million people.

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