A senior Russian general on Tuesday accused the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State of targeting Syria’s infrastructure — including a key dam — in territory held by extremist group.
Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military’s General Staff said the coalition was trying to “completely destroy critical infrastructure in Syria and complicate post-war reconstruction as much as possible.”
A U.S.-backed Syrian opposition force has insisted it is taking care to preserve vital infrastructure as it steps up military operations in northern Syria ahead of a push on Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS group’s self-styled caliphate.
Rudskoi further claimed that coalition jets had destroyed four bridges over the Euphrates River in Syria and hit the Tabqa dam to the west of Raqqa.
The collapse of the dam would cause an “ecological catastrophe” and lead to “numerous” civilian deaths, he said.
On Monday, the U.S.-led coalition reiterated that it is taking every precaution to ensure the integrity of the dam. To our knowledge, the dam has not been structurally damaged.
Engineers who used to work at the site have expressed doubt that the spillway could accommodate the water flow but said it will still take at least a month for the lake to reach critical levels if the gates are not opened. IS has warned that the dam’s main gates are out of service, causing water levels to rise.
Activist groups said Monday the city itself has been without electricity and municipal water for three to five days.