BEIRUT Syrian opposition fighters captured the country’s largest dam Monday after days of intense clashes, dealing a major blow on the battlefield to President Bashar Assad’s troops nearly two years after the uprising against his rule started.
The rebels already control two other dams on the Euphrates River, but Monday’s capture of the al-Furat dam in the northeastern province of Raqqa was a coup for the opposition since it now controls water and electricity supplies to much of Syria, including government-held areas and large swathes of land the rebels captured during 22-months of conflict.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, a Britain-based anti-regime activist, said the rebels took control of the dam after successfully pushing out a group of Assad’s loyalist from the facility’s control room.
The dam fell to the rebel hands midday Monday. Most of the regime troops in the area had stopped fighting on Sunday following the fall of the nearby town of al-Thawra into opposition hands, Abdul-Rahman said.
The rebel push on the dam was led by al-Qaida-linked militant group Jabhat al-Nusra that has been fighting alongside the Syrian rebels in the conflict.
The government in Damascus did not confirm it has lost control of the al-Furat dam.