IS 'planning to set Iraq's Tigris river on fire'

IS 'planning to set Iraq's Tigris river on fire'
The group reportedly pumped oil into the Tigris river south of Mosul as part of a plan to burn a floating bridge constructed by the Iraqi army, officials said.
2 min read
09 August, 2016
IS plans on burning down a floating bridge constructed by the Iraqi army [Anadolu]

The Islamic State group in the Iraqi city of Mosul has pumped large quantities of crude oil into the Tigris river in an attempt to hamper an Iraqi army advance on the militant stronghold, local officials warned this week.

The Nineveh Governorate Council, which has operated out of the Kurdish city of Erbil since the IS takeover of large swathes of Nineveh Governorate and its capital Mosul, issued a statement warning of an environmental disaster on Monday.

"Daesh has laid an oil pipe that flows into the Tigris near the Qayyarah refinery, south of Mosul, in an attempt to pump oil into the river to burn the floating bridge constructed by the Iraqi army in mid-July," said the statement using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"The group is attempting to pump large quantities of oil into the river and set it on fire," added the statement.

Iraqi forces supported by the international coalition have been setting plans to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city from IS, which seized control of Nineveh's capital over two years ago.

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The army constructed a floating bridge on the Tigris south of Mosul to facilitate the transport of troops, vehicles and equipment from its base in Makhmour during the operation to retake the IS-held city.

Iraqi military analyst Hasan al-Zubaidi believes the IS group's attempts to create a environmental disaster to stop the Iraqi army's advance is part of its "hysterical" response to losing important cities such as Fallujah, Heet, Ramadi and Tikrit.

Zubaidi told The New Arab IS had used landmines and booby traps to slow Iraqi forces in cities like Fallujah, Ramadi and Tikrit.

In Mosul however, where the battle will be fought on either side of the Tigris, the militant group is attempting to create new obstacles for advancing Iraqi forces.

Environmental experts have warned of a major crisis if IS continues to pump oil into the Tigris, especially since the Iraqi government does not have the capabilities to carry out clean up operations.

Mosul is the last major Iraqi city under IS control after the group lost Fallujah in June, however experts warn the group might resort to a "scorched earth" policy to retain its position in the northern Iraqi city.