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Syrian Rebels Seize Strategic Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates

Updated on February 12, 2013

For those living in Aleppo and in Syria's Northern provinces, the rebel seizure of the key Tabaqa Dam on the Euphrates River is strategic. For those in Damascus, not so much. The dam generates the electricity(880 megawatts) in Aleppo and in nearby areas. The water is used for farming and manufacturing, well, what is left of it. For Assad, it is a morale blow since his father had built it in the 1960's with the help of the Soviets.

The rebels captured it all but have remained outside of the dam area so Assad's jets will not bomb it The dam is nearly three miles wide and is 200 feet above the river. It is Syria's largest hydroelectric plant.

The Syrian army fought the rebels for five days near the dam until beaten. The security forces on the dam itself also fled. However, the personnel who operate the dam remain and the rebels are not interested in trying to operate it themselves or stop it. Many of the towns and roads surrounding the dam were also seized. However, a more serious blow to Assad and the water supply to Damascus is at Ain al-Fajeh, which is now in rebel control. This water source is one used by the city residents. How the rebels handle this will be interesting because the Syrian army and Assad are also in Damascus. As of now, the rebels have not cut the water source off.

With Damascus being surrounded by rebel forces to a degree, the heaviest fighting has been in Jobar, where fighting has been going on for a week. Heavy fighting continues in Douma and Zamalka.

The only concern the West has about the dam being seized is that it was seized by the al-Qaeda linked rebel force, Jabhat al-Nusra. Also in their possession is Lake Assad, Syria's 247 square mile reservoir.

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