The bid to seize back Mosul dam from extremists falters as US backed forces are hampered by explosive devices
The American backed offensive to recapture Iraq’s biggest dam slowed on Monday, as fighters from the Islamic State rigged part of the area with booby traps and remotely triggered bombs.
Whilst a series of air strikes by American F-18 fighter jets reportedly sent most of the jihadists fleeing from the central parts of Mosul dam, a network of landmines and planted explosives they left behind impeded Kurdish ground forces from recapturing the strategically vital terrain.
“The jihadists have escaped from their positions beside the water pumps – the most important levers for the dam,” said General Kawa Kawani, spokesman for the Kurdish special forces. “But we cannot enter the area because of the explosives.”
Kurdish peshmerga, Iraqi government troops and the United States joined forces over the weekend in an offensive to regain control of Mosul hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river, a structure that provides water and electricity to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the region.
The dam, which holds back 11 billion cubic meters of water and produces over 1,000 megawatts of electricity, has the potential to be used as a “weapon of mass destruction”, experts have warned.
If the dam is intentionally damaged – or even just not properly maintain, it could unleash a 60 foot high wall of water that would submerge Mosul, Iraq’s second city, drowning hundreds of thousands of people and even flooding parts of Baghdad.
Peshmerga forces and some Iraqi government troops had made quick progress towards the dam over the weekend, seizing control of three villages nearby, and coming within a few miles of the main structure.
However, that advance was stalled by an elaborate network of landmines and remotely detonated explosives, which killed two peshmerga fighters and wounded several more.
“The Islamic State clearly have highly sophisticated bomb experts in their ranks,” said General Kawani. “Two of their car bombs were detonated by mobile phones.”
Full article: Islamic State booby traps massive Iraqi dam which could kill thousands if breached (The Telegraph)