MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Turkey again cuts water to northeast Syria amid increased Turkish attacks on SDF positions

14 Dec 2020 – ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey and Turkish-backed groups have yet again cut off drinking water to the northern Syrian city of Hasakah, a local official told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.

Sozdar Ahmed, the co-chair of the Water Directorate of the Autonomous Administration of North East Syria (AANES), explained to Kurdistan 24 that Hasakah city has now gone 25 days without water supply.

As a result, Ahmed added, civilians are forced to buy water at elevated prices or depend on local authorities or humanitarian organizations to truck water to the city.

One civilian from Hasakah confirmed to Kurdistan 24 they have had no water supply for weeks. “Water has been cut off from our city. The water we buy is also costly for us. The water around the wells around Hasakah is also bitter and not suitable for drinking. ”

On Sunday, the Syrian state news agency SANA also reported the shutoff.

The water station is near the border town of Ras al-Ain (Serekaniye), which Turkey and its militant proxies took over in October during Turkey’s so-called Peace Spring Operation.

Under Russian mediation, though, Kurdish-led authorities in northeastern Syria have been providing electricity to the Turkish-occupied areas in exchange for water flow, but Turkish-backed groups have continued to repeatedly cut off water, demanding higher levels of power.

According to a report published on November 30 by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Alouk water station, a critical source of water for nearly 500,000 people in Northeastern Syria, has been disrupted more than a dozen times this year, leading to water shortages.

“While emergency water trucking has been initiated by partners during times of disruption, the UN emphasizes that now, more than ever, essential civilian infrastructure including water and electricity must not be politicized.”

Thomas McClure, a Syria-based researcher at the Rojava Information Center, told Kurdistan 24 that in “recent weeks, Turkey has increased its shelling attacks and raiding attempts outside the ceasefire zone established in October 2019, in an apparent attempt to seize more land or cities, particularly before Donald Trump leaves office.”

‘This has resulted in the displacement of thousands of civilians, per SOHR, and the death of at least four.”

This has raised fears that Turkey and Turkish-backed groups could launch an offensive near the town of Ain Issa to besiege the region of Kobani.

Syrian Kurdish officials have called on Russia and the United States to pressure Turkey to abide by ceasefire deals that Ankara separately signed with the US and Russia in October 2019.

“Turkey and its proxy militias have totally cut off water flow from the Allouk water station at least 14 times throughout 2020,” McClure added.

“Turkey attempts to use its illegal occupation of this key piece of humanitarian infrastructure to pressure the AANES, in particular demanding more electricity for the militias it has installed in the cities it has occupied.”

“More broadly, Turkey uses the water-flow in order to increase the misery of ordinary civilians in NES (Northeast Syria) and exert pressure on the already heavily-burdened NES, in hopes of destablizing the region — a particularly critical goal now as Turkey once again seeks to expand its zone of occupation,” McClure concluded.

Editing by Khrush Najari