ISIS Seizes Major Dam, Could Now Flood Baghdad
200K civilians flee after Kurdish forces defeated
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2014 2:21 AM CDT
Updated Aug 4, 2014 7:55 AM CDT
The Mosul Dam on the northern Tigris River is seen from a helicopter.   (AP Photo/Jacob Silberberg)
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(Newser) – ISIS militants have made major gains after a fresh push in northern Iraq, seizing three towns after defeating Kurdish forces and taking control of the country's biggest and most important dam. The militants have been destroying Shiite shrines and executing resisters in the captured towns and up to 200,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes in what the United Nations calls a "humanitarian tragedy," the New York Times reports. Officials say most of the civilians fleeing the fighting are from the country's minority Yazidi community, who have been ordered to convert to Islam, pay tax, or face death, reports the AP.

The militants managed to seize the Mosul dam on the Tigris river, the country's largest hydroelectric facility, after a 24-hour battle, reports CNN. The president of the Middle East Forum says control of the dam gives ISIS the ability to cause a major flood not just in Mosul, but in Baghdad, almost 300 miles south. "It's a horrendous prospect," he says. The militants are also in control of oil fields in northern Iraq, which allows them to make up to $1 million a day selling oil on the black market, and the seizure of fields in Syria could give them an income of around $100 million a month, ABC reports.