U.S. General: Iraq’s Mosul Dam Could Face Catastrophic Collapse

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -
Iraqi soldiers from the army's 72nd infantry brigade participate in a live ammunition training exercise with U.S.-led Coalition trainers at Besmaya military base in south of Baghdad, Iraq, January 27, 2016. U.S.-led coalition forces training Iraqi soldiers to fight Islamic State are applying lessons from last month's recapture of Ramadi to prepare the army to retake the northern city of Mosul later this year. Picture taken January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Iraqi soldiers from the army’s 72nd infantry brigade participate in a live ammunition training exercise with U.S.-led Coalition trainers at Besmaya military base south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday. (Reuters/Thaier Al-Sudani)

The U.S. military has a contingency plan to deal with a potential catastrophic collapse of Mosul dam in northern Iraq, the top U.S. general in Iraq said on Thursday.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland said Iraqi authorities understood “the potential” for the collapse of the hydroelectric dam, whose foundation requires constant grouting to maintain structural integrity.

“The likelihood of the dam collapsing is something we are trying to determine right now … all we know is when it goes, it’s going to go fast and that’s bad,” MacFarland, head of the U.S.-led Coalition bombing Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, told reporters in Baghdad.

Islamic State terrorists seized the dam for two weeks in mid-2014, sparking fears they might blow it up and unleash a wall of water on Mosul and Baghdad that could kill thousands of civilians.

U.S.-led Coalition forces training Iraqi soldiers to fight Islamic State are applying lessons from last month’s recapture of Ramadi to prepare the army to retake the northern city of Mosul later this year.