Military Situation In Area Of Al-Raqqah On December 26, 2016 (Syria Map Update)

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The map shows the current military situation in the area of Raqqah, an ISIS self-proclaimed capital in Syria. Kurdish YPG forces are advancing on the ISIS-controlled village of Widyan in order to take control of the Widyan crossroad and to secure the northern flank of YGP units that will be involved in the storm of al-Tabqa Dam.

Military Situation In Area Of Al-Raqqah On December 26, 2016 (Syria Map Update)

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  • Pave Way IV

    I’m still a bit paranoid about the possibility that ISIS will blow the al Tabqah Dam if they fear they are going to lose it. It’s 200 feet tall and three miles wide – the largest dam in Syria by far. Lake Assad – the dam’s reservoir – holds 14 billion cubic meters of water.

    ISIS was warning people in the low-lying areas around ar Raqqa to move back when the FSA were trying to hold the Tishrin Dam last year. The implication was that they might blow the Tishrin Dam on the north end of Lake Assad (labeled Al-Tabqa Dam Reservoir on map), and that would cause the failure of both the al Tabqah Dam on the south downstream end and another smaller dam a few miles downstream from Tabqah. I think the Kurds did end up finding a substantial amount of explosives at Tishrin when they took it, but they hadn’t been rigged right or failed to detonate for some reason.

    The fact that the FSA head-choppers were even considering blowing the Tishrin means that ISIS may have the same idea in mind for the Tabqah Dam. That would be a massive catastrophe, wiping out any villages and farms on the banks of the Euphrates downstream for miles. ISIS has always been rumored to be holding a number of ‘high value’ prisoners at Tabqah Dam, which probably means western, GCC and Israeli intel guys or mercs. The U.S. will not bomb anywhere near the dam for fear of damaging it.

    ISIS has never actually threatened to blow the dam that I know of, but they may start using scorched-earth retreat tactics since they know they’re next after Syria and allies clean out Idlib. There may be some strategic reasons for blowing the dam – the flooded areas and loss of downstream bridges and infrastructure would slow down Syrian Army advances from the west side of the Euphrates to the east side. It wouldn’t help against the Kurds/Americans in ar Raqqa, but it would buy ISIS some time in Deir EzZor and east Syria.

    • Werner Knöllermann

      It’s possible to destroy the dam. But take look to the history of the 2. WW, the japanese invaders have made similar destructions with the great chinese rivers. The effect was not very successfull, they could stop the chinese military for couple of days.

      What happens, if they really do it? a lot of towns and villages at the Euphrat are under control by daesh. That means, they are damaging them selve.

      II would say, it dpends on their stupidity

    • VGA

      Why would they destroy their “own population”? I don’t think so.

      Of course, noone knows what those crazies might do …

      • Pave Way IV

        I agree, VGA. But we’re not talking about rational people here. I’m trying to figure in the crazy factor and (in Werner’s reply below) the stupid factor. Of course WE wouldn’t think it’s a particularly good idea, but then we don’t chop heads off of sick children for our own amusement either.

      • gustavo

        Exactly is what hard and soft terrrists have been doing so far….destroying their own population.

    • PZIVJ1943

      Read that Al Tabqa dam is large earthen dam and can not be blown. It is not at high water mark. If I where ISUS I would defend Tabqa and dam at all cost. Kurds may get a bloody nose if they rush forward. Flooding river to defend Raqqa from south makes no sense, the SAA is not there yet and ISUS will only screw their own territory and future sunni recruits.

      • Pave Way IV

        “…Read that Al Tabqa dam is large earthen dam and can not be blown…”

        It’s actually an ‘earth fill’ dam, meaning not solid concrete but a concrete shell over earth fill. It’s difficult to blow from an aerial attack, but not difficult using placed charges They’re actually easier to breach, as even a small stream of water flowing through the compromised shell will quickly erode the fill. You just have to blow it ‘differently’ than a regular dam. They probably wouldn’t even try to blow that part, though.

        The hydroelectric power station and gates are in a conventional concrete dam segment (not the earthen-filled part). That would be where they have high value prisoners and their main ISIS ammo dump. A sufficiently large explosion in the right spot would cause a catastrophic failure of that section – it’s well within ISIS’s capability. A truck-bomb sized charge deep inside the power section of the dam would do it.

        “…It is not at high water mark…”

        It’s suppose to be pretty low right now. But it’s a 60 meter high dam. 15 – 20 meters of water is still plenty of pressure if you blow the concrete part from the inside..

        “…If I where ISUS I would defend Tabqa and dam at all cost…”

        They will and their leaders have said as much. I also found a couple of sites repeating a claim (unverified) supposedly made last year where they threatened to blow the dam if attacked. If the dam is serving as a fortified ISIS headquarters with senior leaders, an ISIS prison for high-value personnel and a large ammo dump, That’s reason enough to carry out their threat if they think they are going to lose it. In addition to that, whoever controls the dam can control irrigation, power and fresh water supply (at least to Aleppo). The reason the FSA took the dam in 2013 is because Assad turned off the power and water from the dam to opposition areas. They would do the same thing to ISIS, so ISIS doesn’t lose much by blowing it (except a few hundred thousand slaves). That’s also good reasons if ISIS was going to lose the dam anyways: deny electricity to the surrounding Kurd/Government regions, deny water to the now-government-held Aleppo and deny irrigation water to the now-government or -kurd-held farmlands around Lake Assad. Blowing the dam if they lost it would hurt Syrians way more than it would hurt ISIS.

        “…Flooding river to defend Raqqa from south makes no sense,..”

        I agree, but that’s not why they would blow it. They might do it to interfere with Syrian troops crossing to the east bank much further downstream. Say they lost Raqqa and were planning on fleeing east/south along the east/north bank to Deir EzZor. They might see some benefit to delaying Syrian troops approaching from the west/south. The intent wouldn’t be to flood the areas downstream to keep them from crossing – the water would drain away too quickly. The purpose would leave a half-mile-wide path of loose sand and mud in or around the riverbed, and take out the bridges. If they were fleeing to Deir EzZor, than a few days of time might be all they need. I admit this is kind of a stretch, but I’m trying to channel angry head-chopper logic here.

        “…ISUS will only screw their own territory and future sunni recruits…”

        I would think they would give some kind of warning to their head-chopper pals downstream to evacuate. If they lose the dam, then they’re not going to have any electricity or irrigation water anyway. The reasoning might be, “If we (ISIS) can’t have it, then Assad isn’t getting any either!”

        Losing the dam to anybody would be a major disaster for ISIS – they have a lot of power now by controlling it. That’s the exact reason they could do something insane if it looked like they were going to lose it anyway.

        As for the recruits, I think ISIS’s CIA handlers have probably picked over all the Euphrates villages for them by now.

        • PZIVJ1943

          Thanks for info. Sometimes I post without doing my homework. The reservoir is largest in Syria and a breach would be quite devastating, even with low water level. ISUS leaders may not be rational and blow the dam just out of spite if they where about to lose it. A scorched earth policy. Best that Kurds leave the area alone for now, and work to straighten out their lines north of Raqqa. They are in no rush, and are waiting for more arms and support from the west (which is on the way). This pisses off Mr Erdogan for sure! He wants to find out how ISUS got so many ATGMs. How many came over Turkish border, just to go onto the black market! Lets not forget about his ally Arabia. Justice is sweet.