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Syria condemns Turkey, US-backed militants for ‘war crime’ after Hasakah water cutoff

A Syrian girl holds water containers in her hands and mouth at the Washukanni camp for the internally displaced near the town of Tuwaynah, near the city of Hasakah, Syria. (By AFP)

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has denounced Turkey and its allied militants as well as US-backed Kurdish forces for repeated cutting off of drinking water in northeastern province of Hasakah, describing the move as a war crime and crime against humanity. 

“Cutting off water supplies to Hasakah residents, either by Kurdish-led militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and American occupation forces or Turkish forces and their allies, is considered as nothing but an inhumane and despicable practice,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“Recurrent water cutoff represents a collective punishment of ordinary people, especially the vulnerable groups of the society like children, women and the elderly, and is considered as a war crime and a crime against humanity,” it added.

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Back on October 3, the Syrian Foreign Ministry held Turkish forces responsible for cutting off drinking water in the country’s northeastern city of Hasakah for two straight months.

Turkish forces and their allied militants continued their “inhuman practices” by cutting the water supply in Hasakah for two months, causing thirst cases and the spread of dangerous illnesses, a ministry statement read.

Syria condemns this crime and holds the Turkish government responsible for its repercussions, it added.

Last August, the Syrian government installed 16 desalination plants to overcome a major water outage in Hasakah province caused by Turkish forces.

Water authorities in Hasakah are now trying to extract water from wells and process it via the desalination plants before distribution to residents via water tankers with the help of humanitarian organizations and local associations, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported at the time.

Turkish forces have repeatedly cut off water in Hasakah province to exert pressure on the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militant group, which is the backbone of the SDF.

Turkey has deployed forces in Syria in violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Ankara-backed militants were deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019 after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push members of the YPG, which forms the backbone of the SDF, away from border areas.

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

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials have said Damascus will respond through all legitimate means available to Turkey’s ongoing ground offensive.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already stated that a new Turkish operation against the YPG militants will remain on the agenda until "security concerns are addressed."

Both Iran and Russia, which have been aiding Damascus in its anti-terror campaign, have warned Turkey against launching such an offensive in Syria.

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