Syrian rebels captured the country’s largest dam on Monday after days of intense clashes, giving them control over water and electricity supplies for much of the country in a major blow to President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The rebels had already seized two other dams on the Euphrates River. But the latest conquest, the al-Furat dam in northeastern Raqqa province, was a major coup for the opposition. It handed them control over water and electricity supplies for both government-held areas and large swathes of land the opposition has captured over the past 22 months of fighting.
Two separate car bombings in northern Syria killed a total of 26 people. Both were blamed on al-Qaida-linked terrorist group alike and, more recently, a scandal over leaked documents by his own butler.
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The rebels have had their biggest success in the civil war across Syria’s north including Idlib, Raqqa and Aleppo provinces, all bordering Turkey.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, a Britain-based activist with the group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said rebels took control of al-Furat dam around midday after successfully pushing out a group of Assad loyalists from the control room. Most of the regime troops in the area had stopped fighting on Sunday following the fall of the nearby town of al-Thawra, Abdul-Rahman said.
The rebel assault on the dam was led by al-Qaida-linked terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra.
The government did not confirm it has lost control of the dam.
Earlier this month, the Observatory said rebels seized another smaller dam in Raqqa province, the Baath dam, named after Syria’s ruling party. In November, Syrian opposition fighters captured Tishrin hydroelectric dam near the town of Manbij in northern Aleppo province, which borders Raqqa.