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Syria condemns Turkish force’s move to cut off drinking water in Hasakah

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Syrian boy watches as Turkish military vehicles, part of a US military convoy, take part in a joint patrol in the Syrian village of Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town along the border with Turkey on October 4, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has condemned in the strongest terms Turkish military forces’ latest decision to cut off the drinking water supply in the country’s northeastern province of Hasakah.

The ministry, in a statement released on Monday, denounced the measure as an act of war crime and a crime against humanity under international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions that apply in times of armed conflict and seek to protect people who are not taking part in hostilities.

“Turkey and its proxies, with the blessing of the US administration and allied terrorists, have used water as a weapon against Syrian women, children, the elderly and disabled people for inhumane and political purposes, stopping the pumping of water from Allouk station for 16 times over the past few months,” the statement read.

The statement noted that the measure has prevented water from reaching residents of the provincial capital city of Hasakah and other neighborhoods over the past two weeks, and that it comes at the time when locals have to bear scorching weather conditions and rising cases of coronavirus infection.

The Syrian foreign ministry highlighted that the Damascus government as well as national humanitarian organizations and provincial authorities have activated mechanisms to deal with the situation, but deployment of US and Turkish forces to the northern part of Syria is slowing down the process.

The ministry then called upon world bodies, particularly the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and leaders of the European Union to assume their responsibilities and honor UN Charter plus international law.

The statement stressed that Turkish and US military forces, Daesh and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Takfiri terrorists and militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to undermine Syria’s sovereignty and independence in a gross violation of the international law and UN Charter.

On Friday, Syria's permanent representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari appealed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to intervene immediately and to utilize all available means in order to stop water supply cut by Turkish troops in Hasakah.

Guterres, for his part, said he is aware of the situation in Hasakah and that he has already tasked the UN team in Syria as well as UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, with adopting all necessary measures to resolve the matter quickly and deliver humanitarian aid to all affected people until Allouk pumping station becomes operational again.

On October 9, 2019, Turkish forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish militants affiliated with the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.

Ankara views the YPG, which is supported by the White House, as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

Two weeks after the invasion began, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants had to withdraw from the Turkish-controlled "safe zone" in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols around the area.

The announcement was made hours before a US-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire.


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