Smoke rises in the horizon following U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS militants at Mosul Dam on the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul where insurgents are fighting Kurdish forces on August 18, 2014. (AFP Photo/Ahmad al-Rubaye)
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The Mosul Dam was always meant to be a symbol of Iraq's grandiose ambition to escape poverty and underdevelopment. But from the start, the $1.5 billion barrier north of the city was beset with significant engineering problems, now made worse after it became the center of a battle between Islamist insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi forces. Despite its structural faults, the country's biggest dam at 3.6 km long, built by a German-Italian consortium in the 1980s, is a vital water and power source for Mosul, Iraq's largest northern city of 1.7 million residents. Fears grew that the militants could damage the dam, which can hold more than 11 billion cubic meters of water.The engineers involved in the Mosul project could not have known the dam would become the center of a battle three decades later, but the structural problems were always there.The water could reach Mosul in 3-1/2 hours, he said.John H Hollis IV, a senior security adviser, accompanied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Kurdish and Iraqi government officials to the dam more than 10 times between 2004 and 2006 to conduct operations on stabilizing the dam.
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