Islamic State militants take over largest dam in Iraq

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Aug. 7, 2014 -- After nearly a week of varying attempts, militants of the Islamic State (State), formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), today have seized control of the Mosul Dam, the largest dam in Iraq. This incident follows the group's apprehension of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, on Tuesday, June 10.

According to recent reports, State fighters and Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, have been battling for control of the two-mile-wide hydroelectric dam, located on the Tigris River 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Mosul.  

On Sunday, Aug. 3, State militants allegedly took over the dam, which provides water and electricity to nearly 2 million Mosul residents. The combatants, however, were pushed back by Kurdish security forces on Monday, Aug. 4, according to Mosul Dam's director, Adbul Kaliq al-Dabbagh.

The intense conflict continued throughout the week, until State offensives eventually seized control of the premises and forced the Kurdish soldiers back this morning.  

The confiscation of the dam places the State in control of important water and power resources for the region, as well as the Tigris River that flows through the center of Baghdad. Further, it enables the State to expand its influence in the region and potentially use these resources as a weapon.

A report published in 2007 by the U.S. government indicates that a 65-foot wave of water could potentially be unleashed across areas of northern Iraq if the dam would fail, causing devastating flooding in the area.

State combatants also captured the Fallujah Dam, located on the Euphrates River, when they seized the city of Fallujah in January. Further, the militants are now attempting to seize the Haditha Dam, also based on the Euphrates in the province of Anbar northwest of Baghdad.  

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