National Security

ISIS Warns Citizens To Flee Its Capital As Massive Dam Is On The Verge Of Collapse

The Islamic State issued a warning to its citizens Sunday claiming that the massive Euphrates Dam is on the verge of collapse, potentially jeopardizing the safety of millions of people, including its de facto capital city of Raqqa.

ISIS issued the warning through its affiliate Amaq News Agency, which claimed a source said that all activity at the dam has stopped due to its power being cut off, leaving all equipment and sections “completely out of service,” thus causing dangerously high water levels.

The terrorist group blamed U.S. coalition air strikes for preventing it from maintaining the dam, however, it offered no evidence to support that claim. It is unclear if Amaq’s report is accurate, though others have claimed ISIS announced the evacuation of Raqqah over loudspeakers. It is possible that the warning could be an anti-U.S. propaganda move intended to turn the citizenry against the U.S.-backed coalition.

Located in al-Taqbah, Syria, the dam is only 25 miles upriver from Raqqa, which the Syrian Democratic Forces currently have under siege. The Syrian opposition movement initially took control of the dam in February 2013, but ISIS forces have controlled it since December. The dam holds back the Euphrates river, which in turn created Lake Assad, Syria’s largest reservoir. If it were to collapse, the flooding could cause untold damage to the surrounding areas.

This is not the first time a dam under ISIS control has sparked worry. There was some concern that the group could sabotage the Mosul dam in Iraq as Iraqi Security Forces began to surround the city. That worst-case scenario did not occur in Mosul, but as the group continues to lose territory in both Iraq and Syria, it may find it better to allow the dam to collapse or to sabotage it as a final desperate move against its enemies.

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