The UN has warned that areas of Syria could face catastrophic flooding as levels of the Euphrates rise and pressure on the already war-damaged Tabqa Dam increases.
Since 24 January, water levels of the Euphrates River have increased by an estimated 10 meters, partly due to heavy rainfall and snow and partly due to ISIL opening three turbines of the Tabqa Dam, flooding riverside areas downstream, according to the UN.
“The water has since flooded agricultural lands and also limited the mobility of residents and their vehicles in rural Deir-ez-Zor on both sides of the river banks in some thirteen ISIL-controlled towns.”
The UN says that, according to 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 from the Tabqa Dam”.
Tabqa Dam, also known as Euphrates Dam, is an earth-filled dam, located around 40 km up-stream from Ar-Raqqa city.
ISIL forces seized control of the dam from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in 2014.
Since then the dam has suffered some bomb damage by airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition, according to the UN report.
“For example, on 16 January 2017, airstrikes on the western countryside of Ar-Raqqa impacted the entrance of the Euphrates Dam, which, if further damaged, could lead to massive scale flooding across Ar-Raqqa and as far away as Deir-ez-Zor.”
See the full UN report here.