Militants target Iraqi dam

  • Article by: ALISSA J. RUBIN and ROD NORDLAND , New York Times
  • Updated: June 25, 2014 - 7:35 PM

Also, Iraq’s prime minister rejected calls for a power-sharing government.

hide

A federal police officer manned a fortified post on the outskirts of the holy city of Karbala.

Photo: Lynsey Addario • New York Times,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview largerrr

– Iraqi security officials said Wednesday that fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were advancing on the Haditha Dam, the second-largest in Iraq.

The militants were coming from the north, the northeast and the northwest. The ISIL fighters had already reached the nearby town of Burwana, and government forces were fighting to halt their advance.

Worried that the insurgents would reach the dam on the Euphrates River, about 120 miles northwest of Baghdad, army officers told employees to stay inside and to be prepared to open the dam’s floodgates if ordered to do so, an employee said.

“This will lead to the flooding of the town and villages and will harm you also,” the dam employee said he told the army officer.

According to the employee, the officer replied: “Yes, I know, it will be against us and our enemies.”

This would not be the first time that the Iraqi government and ISIL have engaged in warfare over a dam. Earlier this year, when ISIL fighters seized the Fallujah dam, they opened it to flood fields of crops all the way south to the city of Najaf. The water at one point washed east as well, almost reaching Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad.

The closure of the dam also starved areas downstream in the provinces of Najaf and Diwaniya of water needed for crops. The dam was reopened after several weeks.

Separately Wednesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected calls for a caretaker government, as he has before, but it appeared to be a repudiation of the Western leaders who have asked him to agree to share power with Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds.

In a televised address, he criticized “other parties,” a reference to Sunnis and Kurds, for not doing more to support his government, and he rejected the idea of any government being formed without his participation.

“Despite what we are suffering through, we haven’t heard from our political partners with any support,” Al-Maliki said. “They are not partners in facing the crisis but they are partners in spending the wealth of Iraq.”

Al-Maliki said plans for a “national salvation government” would be a “coup against the constitution.”

His remarks were his first public statements since President Obama challenged him last week to create a more inclusive government or risk his country descending into sectarian civil war.

The prime minister also criticized remarks that the president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, Masoud Barzani, made in a meeting Tuesday with Secretary of State John Kerry. The Kurdish leader suggested that gains by the ISIL militants had changed the political landscape.

“Whoever is talking about Iraq before Nineveh and Iraq after Nineveh, it’s against the constitution, it’s a way of taking advantage of what’s happening in the country, of using terrorist attacks to get political benefits,” Al-Maliki said.

Nineveh is the province that includes Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which was seized by militants this month.









  • related content

  • Volunteers trained at a police academy on the outskirts of Najaf in southern Iraq. Many Shiites have taken up arms to defend the nearby city of Karbala.

  • A Kurdish peshmerga fighter carries his weapon walks onto his base, where two flags of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are seen on a building, right, and water tower, left, at the front line with the al-Qaida-inspired militants in Tuz Khormato, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the oil rich province of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. A defiant Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected calls Wednesday for an interim "national salvation government" intended to undermine the Sunni insurgency by presenting a unified front among Iraq's three main groups, calling it a "coup against...

  • ILE - In this Monday, June 23, 2014 file photo, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Baghdad. Iraq’s Shiite prime minister on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 rejected calls to form an interim “national salvation government” that critics say would allow the country’s squabbling sects to quickly present a unified front in the face of a growing threat by Sunni militants who have seized several cities this month. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool, File)

  • Volunteers trained at a police academy near Najaf in southern Iraq on Wednesday. Many Shiites have taken up arms to defend the nearby city of Karbala, where the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein ibn Ali was slain in 680 A.D. in a battle that triggered the schism between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

  • Family members grieved for a Sunni relative executed by members of a Shiite militia outside their home in Baghdad.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close