Iran stops fire operation in Hour al-Azim amid Iraq’s no move

August 15, 2018

TEHRAN — While Hour al-Azim, a transboundary body of water shared between Iran and Iraq, has been burning in fire originated mainly in the Iraqi part of the wetland since July 2, the Iraqi government seems to be reluctant to make any moves to put out the fire.

Issa Kalantari, chief of Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE), said on Tuesday that Iraqi government must help Iran is extinguishing the fire.

However, once the fire first broke out in the area it took Iraq 12 days to issue permits for the Iranian helicopters to fly over the area for aerial firefighting, Kalantari regretted adding that it also took them 7 days to issue permits for the second time, ISNA reported.

“Nonetheless, should the fire was originated in Iran it may have taken us one hour to issue a permit,” he highlighted. 

Adel Mola, deputy environment chief at Khuzestan province DOE told IRNA news agency on Tuesday that Iran has stopped fire operation over the last few days.

“So far some one million liters of water is used to put out the fire,” Mola said, stating, “Using helicopters to contain the fire didn’t work so that we decided to stop fire operation.”

Karkheh river in Iran [southwestern province of Khuzestan], and Tigris in Iraq are supposed to feed in Hour al-Azim wetland and responsible bodies should follow up on issues concerning letting water flow into the wetland [to extinguish the fire], Mola explained, saying that some 28,000 hectares of the wetland has burnt in fire so far.

Kiumars Hajizadeh, director general of disaster management department of Khuzestan province also told ISNA on Tuesday both Iran and Iraq are required to provide the wetland with its water right, but Iraq is not committed to international conventions regarding water right of Hour al-Azim.

“Despite water shortages Iran has allocated water right of the wetland in the Iranian part and we are also ready to let water flow into the Iraqi part of Hour al-Azim, but it also requires the Iraqi government to issue necessary permits,” he stated. 

The fire was extinguished on July 25 after 4 days of fire operation, but the area caught fire again on August 2 and the fire was again contained three days later. Currently the wetland is still burning in fire and cities nearing the area are blanketed in choking smoke. 

The smoke rising from the raging fire in Hour al-Azim wetland is threatening people’s health in southern cities of southwestern province of Khuzestan. Many are now suffering respiratory diseases and some are forced to leave their houses.

MQ/MG

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