US and Kurdish-led force say no “imminent danger” of Tabqa Dam collapse, but local activists cite danger from ongoing airstrikes
- Claim: Rebels Hold Off Regime Counter-Attacks in Northern Hama Province
- Claim: Regime Bombs Rebels Fighting ISIS in Eastern Qalamoun
Engineers worked on Tuesday to ease pressure on the Tabqa Dam across the Euphrates River in northern Syria, amid warnings that it could collapse after US airstrikes.
US warplanes paused operations on Tuesday, two days after the Americans were accused of attacks that had damaged the dam’s control room, adding to the pressure of rising water levels.
The Americans are supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in their offensive to take the area, 40 km (25 miles) west of the Islamic State’s center of the city of Raqqa. The SDF took Tabqa airbase and the northern entrance of the 4.5-km (2.8-mile) dam last week.
The US military and the SDF insist that there is “no imminent danger” of collapse. However, claims circulated yesterday that airstrikes had continued, killing the dam’s head engineer, Ahmed al-Hussein, several maintenance crew, and a Red Crescent worker.
A group of engineers and specialists working at the dam have issued a statement demanding a halt of military operations and calling on Turkey to relieve pressure by storing water in lakes on the Euphrates.
Islamic State footage of damage to the dam and of the head engineer said to have been killed:
— Riam Dalati (@Dalatrm) March 27, 2017
Local pro-opposition activists of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently accused the US and SDF of publishing a misleading photograph of the supposed inspection — they said it was actually of the Belikh Channel north of the dam:
— الرقة تذبح بصمت (@Raqqa_SL) March 28, 2017
TOP PHOTO: Syrian Democratic Forces troops near the northern entrance of the Tabqa Dam on Monday (Delil Souleiman/AFP)
Claim: Rebels Hold Off Regime Counter-Attacks in Northern Hama Province
Rebels claim they are holding off regime attempts to regain lost territory in northern Hama Province.
The rebel offensive, which began on March 21, occupied about 25 towns and villages as it closed within 5 km (3 miles) of Hama city. The regime counter-attacks, supported by intense airstrikes, have retaken two villages.
Footage from Majdal:
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) March 29, 2017
Claim: Regime Bombs Rebels Fighting ISIS in Eastern Qalamoun
The Free Syrian Army says its troops have been bombed by the Assad regime as rebels tried to remove the Islamic State from its last position in the eastern Qalamoun region near the Iraqi border.
The FSA said regime warplanes attacked several locations on the Damascus-Baghdad highway as rebels closed on the village of Mahasa on Tuesday. It noted that the Assad regime has not attacked ISIS in the area in the past two years.
In a rapid offensive, rebels have taken about 2,500 square km (965 square miles) from the Islamic State in eastern Syria. The advance could secure a route for movement of arms and supplies both to bolster rebel defenses in the Damascus suburbs and to launch attacks inside the capital.
Last week, rebels took a series of positions in Jobar in northeastern Damascus, reaching as far as Abbassiyeen Square before withdrawing in the face of scores of airstrikes.