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Islamic State Cuts Off Vital Water Supply to Pro-Iraqi Forces

Militants shut off the gates to Ramadi dam, cutting of crucial water supply to surrounding areas held by pro-Iraqi forces.

by VICE News
Jun 3 2015, 3:27pm

Photo by Hadi Mizban/AP

On the same day a senior US official warned that the so-called Islamic State (IS) has the potential to "wreak havoc on the progress of humanity," the group shut the gates to a key dam in the militant stronghold of Ramadi, cutting off vital water flow to stem counterattacks from pro-government forces.

Anbar provincial council chief Sabah Karhout said that militants had "closed all the gates" of a dam in the capital of Iraq's biggest province, located just 55 miles west of Baghdad, AFP reported.

The move has obstructed water supply to Anbar province's eastern areas of Khalidiyah and Habbaniyah, some of the last areas in the province under control of the government. This "will lead to a major humanitarian crisis not only in these areas" but in southern area, local tribal leader Sheikh Rafa al-Fahdawi told AFP.

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Karhout called for Iraqi forces to swiftly retake the dam, or for coalition warplanes to bomb militant targets there. The Iraqi government has sought to recapture Ramadi without success since its was seized by militants in May.

On the same day, a senior envoy to the US-led coalition fighting IS, Retired Gen. John Allen, told a global conference in Qatar that IS is a "a regional problem trending towards global implications" and that the Sunni Muslim extremist group (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) had the potential to "wreak havoc on the progress of humanity" if left to its own devices.

"We said many times that it is critical that all forces in the battlefield must be under the command and control of the government of Iraq for the counter-ISIL operation to be successful," Allen said, according to Reuters.

The US is also "very attentive and concerned about extremist militia elements frequently influenced by Iranian leadership, where Iran may play a significant role in their presence," he added.

Despite the setbacks, Washington reported Wednesday that more than 10,000 IS militants had been killed in the last nine months, since the coalition began its airstrike campaign while arming and training local Kurdish forces and moderate Syrian rebels in the region.

"We have seen a lot of losses within Daesh since the start of this campaign, more than 10,000," US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told France Inter radio, according to Reuters. "It will end up having an impact."

"At the start of this campaign (we) said it would take time," he added. "We have conceived a three-year plan and we're nine months into it."

Related: With the Islamic State Closing In on Ramadi, Iraqi Officials Demand Help from the US

VICE News has not been able to independently verify that figure, but this recent number of dead militants is greatly inflated from government and local estimates previously announced.

At the conference in Qatar, Allen said that while Turkey provided the physical "last line of defense" for pro-militant fighters from abroad who are seeking to enter Syria and Iraq, other countries are also responsible for stopping the influx of some25,000foreigners who have traveled to the region to join IS.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, a group of mothers whose children have joined the militant group quoted the Qu'ran in an open letter posted to social media, begging their sons and daughters to return home.

"Even if you think death will give you that 'better' life, remember that even the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: 'Paradise lies at the feet of your mother,'" Members of the group called Mothers for Life wrote. "By leaving us against our will to give up your own life and take those of others, you have put our struggle, pain, and honor under your feet and walked over it."

middle east
war and conflict
water supply