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Islamic State cuts water off, uses dam to control government-held towns

By Ed Adamczyk
Islamic State cuts water off, uses dam to control government-held towns
A section of the Ramadi, Iraq, dam. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

RAMADI, Iraq, June 4 (UPI) -- Islamic State militants controlling a Ramadi, Iraq, dam are reducing the flow of water to government-held communities, officials said.

The city of Ramadi, seized in May by Islamic State (IS) forces, includes a massive dam supplying water to surrounding communities, and Anbar province council chief Sabah Karthot said IS "closed all the gates" of the dam to lower the water level of the Euphrates River and cut water supplies to the Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah areas to the east. The territory is among the last areas in the province held by government forces.

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The dam has 26 gates, each of which can control the amount of downstream water.

"Cutting the water to Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah will lead to a major humanitarian crisis not only in these areas" but also in the south, said Sheikh Rafa al-Fahdawi, a leader of the anti-IS Albu Fahad tribe.

Officials said residents of those areas are fleeing, fearing an IS attack, and travelling north to Kurdish-controlled Irbil.

The militants seek control of dams wherever they take over territory, to use in military strategy; land can be flooded to obstruct enemy troop movements, or water can be denied areas under government control.

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