Turkish Ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz speaks at a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 5, 2018. Fatih Yildiz Tuesday confirmed that Iraq should not fear from the filling of the reservoir of a massive dam on Tigris River, saying the flowing of water will continue sufficiently. (Xinhua/Khalil Dawood)
BAGHDAD, June 5 (Xinhua) -- The Turkish ambassador to Baghdad Tuesday confirmed that Iraq should not fear from the filling of the reservoir of a massive dam on Tigris River, saying the flowing of water will continue sufficiently.
In a press conference at Turkish embassy in Baghdad, Ambassador Fatih Yildiz told reporters "filling the reservoir of Ilisu Dam will take nearly a year, and sufficient quantities of water would continue to flow to Iraq."
Yildiz said that the Iraqi-Turkish joint committee agreed on May 15 on the quantities of water that would flow from the dam, denying local reports that said the water will cut completely.
Turkey had informed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during his visit to Turkey last October that the reservoir of the dam will be filled in March, but the date was postponed to June after discussion with the Iraqi Minister of Water Resources Hassan al-Janabi during his visit to Turkey, Yildiz said.
Turkey started to fill the reservoir of Ilisu Dam on Friday, and immediately the water level sharply decreased in Mosul, Salahudin and the Iraqi capital Baghdad, raising fears among Iraqis that severe draught could hit their areas and farms.
A video shared on social media showed people walking across the Tigris River in Baghdad, where the water is barely deeper than knee-level.
Riyadh Ezal-Den, head of Mosul Dam in northern Iraq, told local media on Saturday "the storage of water in the reservoir of the dam has reduces by more than three billion cubic meters compared with its level last year of more than eight billion cubic meters."
The water reached Mosul Dam from Turkey has reduced by around half of its normal level, Ezal-Den said.
In a press conference on Saturday, Janabi tried to play down fears of Iraqis from lower level of water flow in Tigris River from neighboring Turkey, saying that despite the reduction of water flow, Iraq has enough drinking water, as well as enough water to irrigate summer corps and orchards.
Janabi urged the Iraqi people to take precautions and store water to face possible crisis.
"The level of water in most areas of Iraq decreased because of natural scarcity of water due to insufficient snow cover and rain," Janabi said.
Yildiz told reporters that the dam was built to produce electricity after filling the reservoir, confirming that his country would not take unilateral decision "because Turkey considers the water is shared with neighboring countries," with dialogue and meetings continuing between the two sides.
Ilisu Dam was built in 2006 on the Tigris River near the village of Ilisu. It is one of the 22 dams of the Southeastern Anatolia Project. Its purpose is hydroelectric power production, flood control and water storage.