A group of rebels have taken control of the 824-MW Tabqa hydroelectric project and the lake it impounds in war-torn Syria, according to reports.
Tabqa and Lake Assad — Syria’s largest hydropower plant and biggest reservoir — are located in the country’s northeastern Raqqa Province and help power the contested city of Aleppo, which is Syria’s capital.
Sources said the seizure of the dam comes after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been denying power to rebel-held areas as a means of turning the population against the insurgent forces.
Syria’s government has yet to confirm that the Tabqa hydro project is now in rebel hands, though the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the insurgent group had captured both the powerhouse and areas in the nearby town Al Tabqa.
“The regime forces showed no resistance, while heads of security branches escaped using helicopters through Al Tabqa military airport,” the watchdog group said in a statement. “The small town embodies the diverse Syrian society, as it has residents from different sects and ethnicities. The fighters have pledges not to harm any of the citizens.”
Tabqa is Syria’s third hydroelectricity facility that has fallen under rebel control. Rebels also seized the 630-MW Tishrin hydro facility in November 2012.