It’s also terribly polluted due to warfare and the water level is decreasing. This article is from May 2007.
BAGHDAD, 8 May 2007 (IRIN) – The River Tigris has long been a symbol of prosperity in Iraq but since the US-led invasion in 2003, this amazing watercourse has turned into a graveyard of bodies. In addition, the water level is decreasing as pollution increases, say environmentalists.
Pollution in the river is caused by oil derivatives and industrial waste as well as Iraqi and US military waste, they say.
The river was one of the main sources of water, food, transport and recreation for the local population but after four years of war and pollution, it has been transformed into a stagnant sewer, according to environmentalists.
“The situation is critical. The river is gradually being destroyed and there are no projects to prevent its destruction,” said Professor Ratib Mufid, an environment expert at Baghdad University.
“Since January 2006 at least 800 bodies have been dragged from those iron nets, and this figure does not include those collected from the central section of the river. Most of the bodies are unidentified and buried without family claims,” said Col Abdel-Waheed Azzam, a senior officer in the investigation department of the Ministry of Interior.
According to Azzam, 90 percent of the bodies found in the river show signs of serious torture. “Because of the state of the bodies, it is not useful to try to have an autopsy done, and if the bodies are not claimed within 24 hours they are automatically buried,” he said.
During Saddam Hussein’s regime people caught dumping garbage in the river were punished, but today mountains of rubbish can be seen on the riverbanks; and these affect the normal watercourse and pollute the area.
Blurb from Wikipedia:
In the Book of Genesis, the Tigris is one of the four rivers branching off the river issuing out of the Garden of Eden. The prophet Daniel is said to have received his visions on the banks of the Tigris.