WATCH: US-backed forces clarify Raqqa dam being handed over to Syrian government
TABQA (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their local civilian council on Saturday denied the Euphrates Dam in the Raqqa governorate had been handed over to the Syrian government, clarifying staff had simply returned to run it.
“There are four turbines that need to be repaired. We contacted the Euphrates Dam Company [which belongs to the Syrian Government],” explained Hamid al-Faraj, the co-chair of the legislative branch of Tabqa’s civil administration affiliated with the self-administration of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan).
“Electricity will be produced for all of Syria. Water will also be available to surrounding areas, for drinking, irrigation, and agriculture,” al-Faraj added.
The SDF further clarified the Syrian government and army were not at all present.
“This does not mean the Syrian regime and Baath party security departments have returned,” Mustefa Bali, head of the SDF media office, told Kurdistan 24.
Bali stated staff who belong to the Syrian government and already worked at the dam before the Syrian war began had been permitted to return to the area which is currently under the control of US-backed forces.
US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian forces drove Islamic State (IS) out of the town of Tabqa and the nearby dam, 45 kilometers (25 miles) west of Raqqa along the Euphrates River, in May 2017.
IS has lost large swathes of territory to separate campaigns being waged by Syrian government forces backed by Russia and Iran, and by the US-backed SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units YPG.
The Euphrates Dam, also known as the Tabqa Dam, whose control room was damaged in the war, is the main source of electricity for all of Syria and provides irrigation water for Raqqa, Deir al-Zour, and Rural Aleppo.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Kurdistan 24 correspondent Akram Saleh contributed to this report from Tabqa)