BEIRUT: Syrian rebels have taken control of the country’s biggest hydro-electric dam on the Euphrates River, activists said, dealing a strategic blow to President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other Syrian activists said Islamist fighters seized the entrances to the dam, although gunmen had not entered the main operations room and the dam had continued to function.
They had earlier swept through the nearby town of Tabqa, renamed al-Thawra (Revolution) by the country’s rulers.
A statue of Assad’s father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, was set on fire in the town, video footage showed.
Abu Ziad Teif, an opposition activist in contact with rebels in the area, said the dam was protected by an artillery battery and many intelligence units, adding that the rebels moved on them in a lightning offensive yesterday, overrunning their positions and capturing scores of personnel.