Iraq’s Mosul Dam lies just outside Islamic State territory fewer than 50 miles from the Syrian border. If the dam fails, hundreds of thousands of people could die or lose their homes in flash floods along the length of the Tigris River.

In the face of this potential disaster, the U.S. State Department is hoping to keep the American embassy in Baghdad dry — at least for a short while.

On March 28, the State Department announced it was hiring MosCamp, Inc. to set up the company’s Aqua Dams around the embassy compound and at a separate site at the Iraqi capital’s international airport. Filled with water, these devices can keep out flood waters up to 10 feet high.

“An exhaustive analysis of the physical condition of the dam has been done,” the department explained in a so-called justification-and-approval document. “It has been determined that without repairs, it is a case of when not if failure will occur.”

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Image courtesy of Quds Press