Iraqi Diyala residents face ISIS ‘water war’

Smoke raises behind an ISIS flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province from ISIS militants. (File photo: Reuters)

An Iraqi official warned on Saturday of a “humanitarian disaster” after Islamist militants diverted Al-Roz River away from Bildoz district in the eastern province of Diyala, affecting thousands of people in what he described as a “water war,” in an interview with a local news outlet.

“ISIS, for the fourth consecutive day, diverted Al-Roz River, considered to be an essential water source to Bildoz, and supplying drinking water to 150 thousand people as well as irrigating vast areas of land,” Diyala MP Furat al-Timimi told Al Sumaria News, adding “thousands of people in Bildoz and other adjacent areas will be affected if water is not returned to its previous course into the river.”

Timimi described Al-Roz as the “main river” seeping into Bildoz, which his located 30 kilometers east of Diyala’s capital Baquba.

He said diverting the river took place following ISIS militants taking control of the strategic Nadhim Al-Sudour Al-Arwaai dam, 45 kilometers northeast Baquba since July.

On Dec. 12, Bildoz’s municipal committee warned that winter crops and produce would be highly affected if ISIS continue to control the dam, which regulates how much water flows into Al-Roz and the Bildoz district.

While the U.S.-led coalition tried last month to use its airforce to open the gates of the damn, “ISIS closed it again to hurt people by waging a water war,” said al-Timimi ,urging for the need to liberate the area.

So far, about one third of Iraq including parts of Diyala are still under ISIS’s control.

Delay in evacuating Yazidis

Elsewhere in Iraq, others continue to suffer as a result of ISIS military control. Thousands of Yazidis continue to be trapped in Mt. Sinjar in the northern province of Mosul in Iraq, the Associated Press reported an Iraqi MP as saying on Friday.

Mahma Khalil, himself a member of Iraq’s minority Yazidis, said sporadic clashes between Iraqi Kurdish fighters and ISIS extremists, as well as other logistic problems, were delaying the evacuation of the last Yazidis.

Fighting was still underway near the mountain, said Khalil.

He called for the need to plan and prepare for logistics and transportation which contributed to the delay.

However, Khalil said Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters were able to ease the plight of the thousands of Yazidis still trapped on Mt. Sinjar and delivered food and supplies to them.

The evacuation of many Yazidis in Sinjar followed the Peshmerga’s advances on Thursday, when they managed to retake some ground lost last summer to ISIS militants and opened up a corridor to the mountain.

The development was an incremental step in the battle to retake the town of Sinjar, at the foothills of the mountain by the same name, which fell to the ISIS group in early August.

Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for the powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party, said that Syrian Kurds militiamen also were able to open up another corridor between their region of northeastern Syria and Mt. Sinjar in neighboring Iraq.

Speaking in Syria, Khalil said that the Syrian Kurdish fighters also captured nine villages from IS militants.

Bombings kill 10 in Baghdad

Security concerns also remain in the capital Baghdad,where bombs targeting commercial streets and an army patrol killed 10 people in and around the capital, Iraqi authorities said.

Police officials said a bomb exploded in a commercial street in the town of Madain, about 20 kilometers (14 miles) southeast of the capital, killing four people and wounding nine others.

In the northern Baghdad suburb of Taji a bomb blast near shops killed three people and wounded 11 others. A roadside bomb struck an army patrol in the western suburbs, killing three soldiers and wounding six others, police officials said.

Medics confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

(With the Associated Press)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44
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