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Syria reservoir dries up, increasing concerns over climate change in region

Tabqa Dam, located on the Euphrates 25 miles from Raqqa, Syria. The dam lead to the creation of Lake Assad, Syria's largest water reservoir.
Tabqa Dam, located on the Euphrates 25 miles from Raqqa, Syria. The dam lead to the creation of Lake Assad, Syria's largest water reservoir.

A major reservoir in north-west Syria has been left empty and dried up, with Syrian farmers and officials claiming that a series of natural and structural reasons are responsible for it.

According to the news agency Associated Press (AP), the reservoir – formed by Al-Duwaysat Dam in the opposition-held Idlib province – has been reduced to a parched expanse, scattered with shallow pools where sheep drink from.

This is the first time the reservoir has dried up to such an extent since its construction 27 years ago. The incident was reportedly caused by low rainfall last winter, irrigation by farmers trying to save their crops, and structural damage to the pipes which has caused leakage.

800 families reportedly depend on the reservoir to irrigate farmland totalling 150 hectares (370 acres).

READ: Bleak future awaits MENA if climate change effects not tackled

According to the reservoir's managing engineer, Maher al-Hussein, who spoke to the paper, it marks a stark contrast to the full capacity farmers enjoyed only two years ago. "Because of drought and low rainfall, we can now walk on the floor of the reservoir," he said. "It is the first time the reservoir has dried out since it was built in 1994."

A cattle farmer named Abu Joumaa also said that "for 10 years we have come to this reservoir. If God does not send us good rainfall that could fill the reservoir this year … people won't be able to grow crops they rely on to make a living."

Syria is currently experiencing one of its hottest and driest years recorded, which caused drought and a series of wildfires in the west of the country throughout the summer. The entire region has suffered from a shortage of water this year, with Iraq having called on Syria three months ago to increase its water supply to the country.

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