Iraqi insurgents use water as weapon after seizing dam

Updated 11 April 2014

Iraqi insurgents use water as weapon after seizing dam

FALLUJA, Iraq: Insurgents in Iraq have added water to their arsenal of weapons after seizing control of a dam in the west of the country that enables them to flood certain areas and prevent security forces from advancing against them.
The dam helps distribute water from the Euphrates river on its course through the western province of Anbar, and is located some 5 km south of the city of Falluja, which was overrun by militants early this year.
Iraqi troops have since been surrounding Falluja and shelling the city in an effort to dislodge anti-government tribes and insurgent factions including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In February, ISIL took control of the Nuaimiya area where the dam is located, and began fortifying their positions with concrete blast walls and sand bags, according to anti-government tribesmen who said no other groups were involved in the takeover.
The militants closed all eight of the dam’s 10 gates one week ago, flooding land upstream and reducing water levels in Iraq’s southern provinces, through which the Euphrates flows before emptying into the Gulf. Anti-government tribal fighters said ISIL’s tactic was to flood the area around the city to force troops to retreat and lift the siege on Falluja.
“Using water as a weapon in a fight to make people thirsty is a heinous crime,” said Oun Dhiyab, a government adviser to the water ministry.


Haftar agrees to lift Libya oil blockade with conditions

Updated 27 min 28 sec ago

Haftar agrees to lift Libya oil blockade with conditions

  • Pro-Haftar groups supported by the Petroleum Facilities Guard blockaded key oilfields and export terminals on January 17

BENGHAZI: Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar announced Friday a conditional lifting of a months-long blockade on oilfields and ports by his forces.
“We have decided to resume oil production and export on condition of a fair distribution of revenues” and guarantee they “will not be used to support terrorism,” he said on television.
Pro-Haftar groups supported by the Petroleum Facilities Guard blockaded key oilfields and export terminals on January 17 to demand what they called a fair share of hydrocarbon revenues.
The blockade, which has resulted in more than $9.8 billion in lost revenue, according to National Petroleum Company (NOC), has exacerbated electricity and fuel shortages in the country.
Dressed in his military uniform, Haftar said the command of his forces had “put aside all military and political considerations” to respond to the “deterioration of living conditions” in Libya, which has Africa’s largest oil reserves.
The announcement comes after hundreds of Libyans protested last week in the eastern city of Benghazi, one of Haftar’s strongholds, and other cities over corruption, power cuts and shortages in petrol and cash.
Protesting peacefully at first, protesters on Sunday set fire to the headquarters of the parallel eastern government in Benghazi and attacked the police station in Al-Marj.
Police officers fired live ammunition to disperse them in Al-Marj, leaving at least one dead and several wounded, according to witnesses and the UN mission in Libya.
Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
The country’s oil revenues are managed by the NOC and the central bank, both based in Tripoli, which is also the seat of Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Haftar runs a rival administration based in the country’s east.
Haftar— who has the backing of Egypt, the UAE and Russia — launched an offensive against Tripoli in April last year.
After 14 months of fierce fighting, pro-GNA forces backed by Turkey expelled his troops from much of western Libya and pushed them to Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s rich oil fields and export terminals.