Tishrin Dam

The Tishrin Dam (Arabic: سد تشرين, romanized: Sadd Tišrīn, lit. 'October Dam', Kurdish: Bendava Tişrîn, Classical Syriac: ܣܟܪܐ ܕܬܫܪܝܢ, romanized: Sekro d'Teshrin) is a dam on the Euphrates, located 90 kilometres (56 mi) east of Aleppo in Aleppo Governorate, Syria. The dam is 40 metres (130 ft) high and has 6 water turbines capable of producing 630 MW. Construction lasted between 1991 and 1999. Rescue excavations in the area that would be flooded by the dam's reservoir have provided important information on ancient settlement in the area from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period upward.

Tishrin Dam
View of the Tishrin Dam
Location of Tishrin Dam in Syria
Official nameسد تشرين
LocationAleppo Governorate, Syria
Coordinates36°22′53″N 38°11′00″E
Construction began1991
Opening date1999
Dam and spillways
Height40 m (131 ft)
CreatesTishrin Dam Reservoir
Total capacity1.3 km3 (0.3 cu mi)
Power Station
Installed capacity630 MW

Characteristics of the dam and the reservoir

The Tishrin Dam is a hydroelectric rock-fill dam on the Euphrates, located upstream from the much larger Tabqa Dam.[1] The dam is 40 metres (130 ft) high and has 6 turbines capable of producing 630 MW. Annual power production of the Tishrin Dam is expected to be 1.6 billion kilowatt hour.[2] The capacity of the 60 kilometres (37 mi) long reservoir is 1.3 cubic kilometres (0.31 cu mi), which is small compared to the capacity of Lake Assad of 11.7 cubic kilometres (2.8 cu mi) directly downstream from the Tishrin Dam.[3] Apart from the Euphrates, the Tishrin Dam reservoir is also fed by the Sajur River.

Construction started in 1991 and was completed in 1999. One reason for the construction of the Tishrin Dam was the lower than expected power output of the hydroelectrical power station at the Tabqa Dam.[4] This disappointing performance can be attributed to the lower than expected water flow in the Euphrates as it enters Syria from Turkey. Lack of maintenance may also have been a cause.[5] The Tishrin Dam is the last of three dams that Syria has built on the Euphrates. The other two dams are the Tabqa Dam, finished in 1973, and the Baath Dam, finished in 1986. Syria currently plans to build a fourth dam on the Euphrates between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor – the Halabiye Dam.[6]

Rescue excavations in the Tishrin Dam Reservoir region

The Tishrin Dam Reservoir has flooded an area in which numerous archaeological sites were located. To preserve or document as much information from these sites as possible, archaeological excavations were carried out at 15 of them during construction of the dam.[7][8] Among the oldest excavated and now flooded sites is Jerf el-Ahmar, where a French mission worked between 1995 and 1999. Their work revealed that the site had been occupied between 9200 and 8700 BC at the end of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period and the beginning of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. In its multiple occupation phases, the site contained a sequence of round and rectangular buildings. In the later occupation levels of the site, a number of buildings have been excavated that were partly dug into the soil and had stone walls. Their size, internal division, decoration and the finds of human skulls as foundation deposits led the excavators to suggest that these buildings had a communal function.[9] These finds were deemed so important that in 1999, flooding of the Tishrin Dam Reservoir was postponed for two weeks so that three houses could be dismantled and rebuilt in a museum near the site.[10][11]

Syrian Civil War

On 26 November 2012, rebel fighters captured the dam from Syrian Government forces of President Bashar al-Assad during a battle of the Syrian Civil War.[12] The dam's capture cut off a major government supply line to and from Raqqa, while unifying stretches of rebel territory on either side of the Euphrates River.[13] The dam's capture also cut off one of the last government supply lines to Aleppo, further encircling soldiers fighting in the city.[14] In September 2014, ISIL captured the dam from rebel forces. In December 2015, the Syrian Democratic Forces captured the dam from ISIL.[15]

See also


  1. Mutin 2003, p. 4
  2. Shapland 1997, p. 111
  3. Kolars 1994, p. 80
  4. Collelo 1987
  5. Shapland 1997, p. 110
  6. Jamous 2009
  7. del Olmo Lete & Montero Fenollós 1999
  8. McClellan 1997
  9. Akkermans & Schwartz 2003, pp. 52–55
  10. Stordeur 2008
  11. Fondation Osmane Mounif Aïdi 2007
  12. Mroue, Bassem (26 November 2012). "Activists: Syrian rebels seize major dam in north". The Lebanon Daily Star. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  13. AFP (26 November 2012). "Syrian rebels seize key dam on Euphrates". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  14. AFP (26 November 2012). "Syria rebels close Aleppo ring, army bombs near Damascus". NOW Lebanon. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  15. "U.S.-backed alliance captures key dam from Islamic State: alliance spokesman". Reuters. 26 December 2015.


  • Akkermans, Peter M. M. G.; Schwartz, Glenn M. (2003), The archaeology of Syria. From complex hunter-gatherers to early urban societies (ca. 16,000-300 BC), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-79666-0
  • Collelo, Thomas (1987), Syria: A Country Study, Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, OCLC 17411963
  • del Olmo Lete, Gregorio; Montero Fenollós, Juan Luis (eds.) (1999), Archaeology of the Upper Syrian Euphrates, the Tishrin Dam area: proceedings of the international symposium held at Barcelona, January 28th-30th, 1998, Barcelona: AUSA, ISBN 978-84-88810-43-4CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Fondation Osmane Mounif Aïdi (2007), "Jerf al-Ahmar", Fondation Osmane Mounif Aïdi, retrieved 19 December 2009
  • Jamous, Bassam (2009), "Nouveaux aménagements hydrauliques sur le Moyen Euphrate syrienne. Appel à projets archéologiques d'urgence" (PDF), studiaorontica.org/ (in French), DGAM, retrieved 14 December 2009
  • Kolars, John (1994), "Problems of International River Management: The Case of the Euphrates", in Biswas, Asit K. (ed.), International Waters of the Middle East: From Euphrates-Tigris to Nile, Oxford University Press, pp. 44–94, ISBN 978-0-19-854862-1
  • McClellan, Thomas L. (1997), "Euphrates Dams, Survey of", in Meyers, Eric M. (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Ancient Near East, 2, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 290–292, ISBN 0-19-506512-3
  • Mutin, Georges (2003), "Le Tigre et l'Euphrate de la discorde", VertigO (in French), 4 (3): 1–10, doi:10.4000/vertigo.3869, ISSN 1492-8442
  • Shapland, Greg (1997), Rivers of discord: international water disputes in the Middle East, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-312-16522-2
  • Stordeur, Danielle (2008), "Syrie - Jerf el-Ahmar. Pour savoir en plus", France Diplomatie (in French), Ministère des affaires étrangères et européennes, retrieved 19 December 2009
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