The US military in 2017 bombed the Tabqa Dam in northern Syria causing it to stop functioning entirely despite the dam being placed on a no-strike list of protected civilian sites, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing anonymous former officials
WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 20th January, 2022) The US military in 2017 bombed the Tabqa Dam in northern Syria causing it to stop functioning entirely despite the dam being placed on a no-strike list of protected civilian sites, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing anonymous former officials.
US special operations forces struck the dam using large conventional bombs - including at least one BLU-109 bunker-buster bomb made to destroy thick concrete structures - in March of 2017, resulting in a loss of function that nearly resulted in catastrophe, the report said.
The reservoir rose 50 feet and almost spilled over the dam, nearly causing a catastrophic situation in which "the number of casualties would have exceeded the number of Syrians who have died throughout the war," according to a former dam director.
The dam attack resulted in such a dire situation that authorities upstream in Turkey stopped the flow of water into Syria and a rare emergency ceasefire was called by the Islamic State terror group (banned in Russia), the Syrian government, Syrian Defense Forces and United States, the report said.
US Central Command chief spokesman Capt. Bill Urban acknowledged the strike, but clarified that it targeted towers attached to the dam and not the dam itself. Analysis indicated that the strike was not likely to cause structural damage to the dam, and given that the dam did not collapse, "that analysis has proved accurate," Urban said.
The US government viewed the dam as essential to victory in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, given the dam's proximity and importance to the terror group's self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa. In the 2017 offensive to retake the region, the US-led coalition determined that they would have to take the dam to keep the Islamic State from intentionally flooding forces downstream.
The bombing took place despite Defense Intelligence Agency recommendations not to strike the dam due to concerns about causing a critical malfunction and deadly flood. The US special operations forces requested the strike for pre-emptive "terrain denial" purposes, and initially used bombs that explode in the air before requesting the bunker-buster after failing to dislodge the enemy combatants, according
The Islamic State fighters fled the area several days after the strike and sabotaged the dam's turbines during their retreat, dam engineers reportedly said. US-led coalition forces took the nearby Islamic State capital several months later in the Second Battle of Raqqa.