Syrian experts visit dam spillway


Associated Press

BEIRUT

Syrian engineers and Red Crescent officials Wednesday visited a spillway of a key dam west of the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa, opening the gates and relieving pressure, according to the aid organization and Syrian Kurdish media.

The visit followed concerns that the Tabqa Dam is threatened, endangering the surrounding area that has become a battleground as U.S.-backed forces push toward Raqqa, the IS group’s self-proclaimed capital. The main gates of the dam, further to the south from the spillway, are out of service.

The condition of the dam, Syria’s largest and a strategic infrastructure still in the hands of IS, has been disputed after conflicting claims that it came under attack from the U.S.-led coalition, damaging the infrastructure, amid an unfolding offensive on the IS stronghold.

The U.S.-led coalition denied targeting the dam, behind which lies Syria’s largest water reservoir.

While IS still controls the main span of the dam and its gates, located about 25 miles upstream from the city of Raqqa, the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces control the spillway and canal, about 2.5 miles further to the north.

The Syrian Red Crescent spokeswoman, Mona Kurdy, said a team of its volunteers managed to reach the spillway Wednesday.

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