MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti) — Sunni militants from the Islamic State (IS) have fully seized Iraq’s biggest dam near the city of Mosul, successfully fighting off Kurdish militias, Agence France Press (AFP) has reported with reference to the local military.
“The Mosul Dam has been under the insurgents’ control since last evening,” Holgard Hekmat, an official representative of the Kurdish Peshmerga armed forces, told the agency. Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of the Nineveh Governorate, told the New York Times Thursday it was the Kurdish Peshmerga forces’ “organized retreat” that allowed the IS to occupy the dam. Earlier, it was reported that the IS had tried to take over the dam, but the Kurdish fighters had successfully repelled the attacks.
Monday, Daniel Pipes, the president of the Middle East Forum, told CNN the dam could be a serious weapon in the militants’ hands, allowing them to create a massive flood, capable of reaching Baghdad, which is 280 miles from Mosul. The IS also seized the cities of Sinjar and Wana in northern Iraq, according to Reuters, forcing thousands of people belonging to the local Yezidi minority to flee.
The IS, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), is an extremist Sunni Muslim group, which proclaimed itself an Islamic caliphate. In early 2014, the IS declared independence from al-Qaeda and launched a massive offensive on Iraq in June. The IS gathered the support of smaller Sunni extremist groups and former Saddam Hussein regime servicemen, and captured vast territories in northern Iraq and Syria.