Turkey assures Iraqis it won't cut off water on Tigris River

Turkey's ambassador to Baghdad has assured Iraqis his country won't cut off water supplies to the Tigris River, days after it started filling up a reservoir further upstream, causing water shortages and panic in Iraq.

Ambassador Fatih Yildiz told a Baghdad press conference on Tuesday that Turkey will release "sufficient quantities of water." He didn't elaborate but added it will take nearly a year to fill the reservoir behind Turkey's Ilisu dam.

Since the filling started on June 1, water levels of the Tigris have dropped significantly, allowing Iraqis to cross the riverbed on foot in some places.

Dams built in neighboring Iran on its tributaries to the Tigris have also contributed to its low water levels.

The Tigris, along with the Euphrates, is Iraq's major source of water.