Tags: Iraq | Islamists | Mosul

Militants Seize Control of Iraq's Largest Dam as Thousands Flee

Image: Militants Seize Control of Iraq's Largest Dam as Thousands Flee Families from the minority Yazidi sect flee the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjarl, west of Mosul on Aug. 4. (Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 09:10 AM

Militants from an al-Qaida breakaway group in Iraq captured the country’s largest dam, whose destruction could flood the city of Mosul, according to an employee on site and local officials.

A Twitter account purportedly linked to Islamic State, which has seized territory across Iraq and sent tens of thousands of people fleeing from their homes, said today that it had captured 15 villages and the Mosul dam after fighting Kurdish forces.

“The Mosul dam is now under Islamic State control,” Hisham al-Brefkani, a member of the Nineveh provincial council, said in a phone interview. “We call on the United Nations, the Security Council, the U.S. and the European Union to help.”

A dam employee, who was on site and asked that his name be withheld for safety reasons, confirmed that Islamic militants had overrun the installation.

Earlier today, several predominantly Christian villages and towns, including Qaraqosh, fell into the hands of the militants, Yousif Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, said by phone. The Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga, who had been protecting the villages, retreated, allowing the militants to take over, Thomas said.

Islamic State, which was previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has seized territory throughout Iraq and declared its own self-styled caliphate, highlighting the central government’s inability to ensure security under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Firas Salem, 35, speaking by phone from a church in Erbil, where he has taken refuge, said he left Qaraqosh along with his family yesterday following clashes between Peshmerga forces and militants who wanted to enter the town.

“At the very, very least, they would have let us leave with only the clothes on our backs and would have taken our money, jewelry and car,” Salem said of the militants. “That is, if they wanted to have mercy on us.”

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