Reports: Iraqi Kurds close to retaking strategic Mosul Dam

Mosul Dam

Iraqi Kurdish forces are close to retaking control of Mosul Dam from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) following more than a dozen air strikes by the United States on Monday, multiple sources report.

U.S. drones, bombers and fighters destroyed several ISIS vehicles and defensive positions near the dam, allowing Kurdish and Iraqi forces to approach from the ground.

Ground forces commander Mansour Barzani told The New York Times earlier today he expected Kurd forces to retake Mosul "in the next few hours", though mines in the complex have slowed progress.

HydroWorld.com reported ISIS gained control of the dam and its associated 750 MW hydropower project earlier this month after Kurdish forces successfully defended it earlier the same week.

Mosul was completed in 1984 on a soluble foundation of gypsum, anhydrite, and karstic limestone. To save construction time, foundation grouting was not completed ahead of time. It began seeping immediately upon filling of the reservoir in 1985.

Located on the Tigris River upstream from Baghdad, Mosul's condition led many to fear ISIS might potentially use it for destructive purposes.

According to a 2009 study published by two professors at Mosul University, more than 80 feet of flood water could cover 53.6% of Mosul City and destroy up to 100 square miles of farmland should the dam ever fail.

The flooding would then extend down the Tigris River toward Baghdad, potentially covering the capital city in as much as 15 feet of water within several days.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded in 2006 that "in terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world... If a small problem at Mosul Dam occurs, failure is likely."

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