SDF temporarily halts operation near Tabqa Dam after ISIS propaganda

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Euphrates (Tabqa) Dam in Syria's Raqqa. File photo

ARA News

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Monday temporarily halted the operation to take the Tabqa Dam in Raqqa Governorate in order to inspect damages after ISIS propaganda suggested the dam could collapse.

However, after investigation it was concluded the dam was not damaged.

On 26 March, Amaq, the ISIS propaganda arm, claimed that the Tabqa Dam could collapse due to heavy bombing by the US-led coalition. As a result, the SDF temporarily halted the operation.

“For saving Tabqa Dam and taking the necessary procedures for that, and at the request of dam manager, we decided to cease the operations in Tabqa Dam for 4 hours since 01:00 pm till 05:00 pm by the date of March 27, 2017 for the engineers’ team could enter the dam and undertake their works,” the command of the SDF-led Euphrates Wrath operation room said.

SDF spokeswoman and commander Jihan Sheikh Ehmed for the Euphrates Wrath operation said in a statement that after an engineering team entered the dam it was concluded that the dam was not damaged and there was no threat of collapse that could threaten the civilian population in Raqqa.

A YPG official on Sunday said the claims that the dam was damaged was just propaganda by the regime and ISIS to slow down the operation and that the SDF will eventually liberate the strategic dam.

Moreover, the SDF said the dam was not targeted by any coalition air strikes.

The US-led coalition on Monday confirmed that the dam was not damaged.

“The Coalition is taking every precaution to ensure the integrity of Tabqa Dam. To our knowledge, the dam has not been structurally damaged,” the official Twitter account of the International Coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve said.

A US Government official told ARA News in an exclusive statement that it was most likely an ISIS propaganda to slow down the operation.

“Unfortunately I’m not sure I’m in a position to say whether the Amaq claims about Tabqa Dam are true or not. What I could say, unofficially, is that to date we have seen ISIS falsely report civilian casualties resulting from Coalition airstrikes in Syria. I imagine such consciously inaccurate reports likely intend to slow and jeopardize the C-ISIS campaign,” the official said.

“As for Tabqa Dam, it is strategically significant given that it is a major piece of power infrastructure. Tabqa and the surrounding areas are also ISIS strongholds and could act as a) defenses for Raqqa City or b) as egress routes in the event that ISIS loses Raqqa City,” the US official told ARA News.

“Denying ISIS Tabqa removes a potential defense of Raqqa and provides the opportunity to degrade ISIS manpower ahead of the battle for Raqqa City,” the official concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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