World Isil jihadists close Iraq dam gates

Isil jihadists close Iraq dam gates

An Iraqi soldier stands guard at a military barracks near Ramadi city, western Iraq
An Iraqi soldier stands guard at a military barracks near Ramadi city, western Iraq

Islamic State jihadists have “closed” the gates of a dam in Ramadi city inIraq, cutting the water supplies to two areas controlled by the Iraqi government, Baghdad officials have said.

The move came as members of the US-led international coalition met in Paris for crunch talks to revive faltering efforts to defeat the jihadists in Iraq and in Syria.

Sabah Karhout, Anbar’s provincial council chief, said that in closing off the dam the jihadists have succeeded in lowering the levels of the Euphrates River and cutting water supplies of Khaldiyah and Habbaniyah, two of the last areas in the province still to be under the control of Baghdad.

The lower water level may also make it easier for Isil to carry out attacks.

“The goal of (IS) is not to cut the water, but to reduce the level, to take advantage of it for military purposes,” said Aoun Dhiyab, an Iraqi water expert.

Since their dramatic sweep into Iraq with the capture of Mosul city one year ago this month, Isil has continued to grow in size and strength.

Fighters from the Badr Brigades Shiite militia patrol at the front line, on the outskirts of Fallujah
Fighters from the Badr Brigades Shiite militia patrol at the front line, on the outskirts of Fallujah

Whilst the jihadist group has suffered setbacks, with coalition airstrikes assassinating or wounding key leaders, the some 4,100 bombing raids has not stalled Isil’s broader advance.

Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister on Tuesday accused the coalition of failing to sufficiently arm Baghdad: “[Isil] is a transnational organisation. We need all the support of the world, the intelligence of the world and we are not getting it,” he told representatives from 22 countries in Paris.

Mr al-Abadi rejected the recent assessment of US defence secretary Ashton Carter, that the Iraqi forces “showed no will to fight”, instead blaming a lack of intelligence support.

“Iraqi forces are prepared to fight,” the prime minister said. “If you don’t have enough intelligence, if you don’t have enough from airplanes seeing what’s happening in advance, how can you react?”

The United States government sought to assure Mr Abadi, promising an increase in military support. John Kerry, the US secretary of state, speaking to the conference by telephone, said Washington would start delivering anti-tank missiles to the Iraqi military this week.

Britain was also keen to emphasis the role its playing in the fight against Isil, stressing that it has given the “second biggest airstrike contribution” in the coalition – though its tally, of 250 “successful” strikes remains leagues behind the United States.

Despite the show of unity by coalition partners in Paris, there was no substantial change to the strategy for defeating Isil.

As it stands currently, the plan offers no quick solutions: the coalition must first train new Iraqi troops to replace the entire military divisions thatcollapsed in the face of the jihadist advance. The coalition has also pressured Baghdad to also reign in Iranian backed Shia paramilitary groups that are increasingly taking control of the frontlines.

Though an effective fighting force, the Shia militias – known broadly as the Haashid Shaabi, have a reputation for being brutally sectarian, causing divisions with Sunni tribes and soldiers allied with Baghdad.

“Prime Minister Abadi needs to assert himself as the commander-in-chief, and bring the Haashid Shabi under his control so he can unify his troops,” Alaa Maaki, a former Sunni member of the Iraqi parliament and senior advisor to the government told the Telegraph.

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