According to reports yesterday that ISIS had managed to take over parts of Iraq’s Mosul hydroelectric dam, the nation’s largest such dam. Officials now say Kurdish fighters have managed to repel that attack.
The ISIS fighters continue to press the offensive againstboth the Mosul Dam and the Haditha Dam down in the Anbar Province. The dams would give ISIS control over water flow on Iraq’s two major rivers, as well as a broad amount of electricity generation.
ISIS has been keen to take over energy supplies in both Iraq and Syria, seizing major oil fields, refineries, and now turning its focus on the hydroelectric dams. Though so far defenses have held in both Mosul and Haditha, the value of those dams means ISIS will keep trying, and that both are in the middle of ISIS-held territory means reinforcements may be tough for defenders to come by.
The bigger concern, perhaps, is what happens if the Mosul dam falls, because it is in the middle of substantial repairs, and assuming ISIS can’t keep up with the repair schedule, the dam could easily fail outright.
As ISIS continues to expand its control over Iraq and Syria, the nature of the group and its membership are coming under increasing scrutiny, as is the Turkish factor, particularly important as ISIS now spans much of Turkey’s southern border.
According to Germany’s Die Welt, of the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 ISIS members, some 1,000 of them are known to be Turkish citizens. The group has recruited worldwide, but such a broad Turkish contingent could be significant given their proximity to southern Turkey.
ISIS, along with other rebel factions, have used Turkey as a staging area as well as a source of fighters. In addition to the Turkish citizens, some 1,200 people from EU member nations have joined ISIS as well, also traveling through Turkey.
Turkey’s problem with ISIS is only going to grow, and the Erdogan government is trying to keep the media from covering it too broadly, imposing a gag order on stories about the 49 Turkish citizens captured by ISIS in early June. The situation remains unresolved, but essentially uncoverable inside Turkey.
The loss of important parts of Iraq’s northwestern Nineveh Province to ISIS have a number of Congressional hawks pushing again for aggressive US action, starting with arms and aid to the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who are facing down ISIS in the region.
The ISIS push into Nineveh began in June with the sacking of Mosul, and now they are aiming to take the last (Kurdish-held) border region with neighboring Syria, which would effectively give ISIS control over the entire border, and most of both sides.
The Pentagon insisted that’s not the case, saying there has been no coordination of air attacks in Iraq whatsoever, though the White House confirmed intelligence sharing with the Iraqi military and the Peshmerga on the ISIS fighting.
The Peshmerga has had some success in fighting ISIS up until this past weekend of fighting, and seems to be able to defend its heartland successfully, though the loss of territory along the Syrian border could threaten Kurdish factions in Syria’s northeast as well.