Syria said Tuesday it has increased Euphrates river flow to water-starved Iraq and will continue to boost supplies through the summer as part of moves to improve relations with its neighbour.
"Since mid-June, Syria has allowed some 670 million cubic metresbillion gallons) of water into Iraq," exceeding a quota specified under a previous accord, Irrigation Minister Nader Bunni told the Ath-Thawra newspaper.
The announcement came as a delegation headed to Baghdad to discuss reopening an embassy there for the first time since Saddam Hussein's regime broke off relations in 1980 over Syria's support for Iran in the 1980-1988 war.
"This shows Syria's support for the return to normal life in Iraq and... a sign of solidarity with the Iraqi people who are going through a difficult situation," Bunni said of the water deal, which will extend for three months.
Water has long been disputed between Iraq, Syria and Turkey, which controls the source of the 2,800 kilometre-long (1,700 mile) Euphrates river that crosses through Syria and Iraq.
Iraq and Syria have complained that their northern neighbour, which has built a number of dams, is monopolising the waters to best serve its agriculture and industry while leaving them at Ankara's mercy.
According to a 1987 agreement, Turkey allows 500 cubic metersgallons) of water per second into Syria, which then sends about 58 percent of its share to Iraq.
Damascus asked for a "more equitable" share of water, accusing Ankara of rationing water, particularly in the summer, to serve its own needs.
According to the Syrian newspaper, the amount of water Turkey currently allows into Syria "exceeds habitual quotas" set by the accord.
Turkey says it allows enough water for its neighbours and that water shortages are caused by Syria's failure to build dams to retain what it receives.
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