Turkey should urgently stop targeting critical infrastructure necessary for residents’ rights and well-being, including power and water stations, New-York based international non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.
Revealing the devastating consequences of Turkish drone strikes on Kurdish-held areas in northeast Syria between 5 and 10 October, HRW stressed that people in the region, already facing a severe water crisis, now also bear the brunt of increased bombardment, exacerbating their struggle to get essential water supplies.
“By targeting critical infrastructure across northeast Syria, including power and water stations, Turkey has flouted its responsibility to ensure that its military actions do not aggravate the region’s already dire humanitarian crisis”, said Adam Coogle, the Deputy Middle East Director at HRW.
According to HRW, the Turkish Armed Forces launched air strikes on more than 150 locations in the governorates of al-Hasakah (Hesekê), Raqqa and Aleppo. The attacks not only claimed dozens of lives, including civilians but also caused severe damage to civilian structures and infrastructure. Among the most critical impacts were attacks on water and electrical power stations, leading to the “complete cut-off of electricity and water supply” in the al-Hasakah governorate.
The damage to infrastructure caused by the strikes has severely impacted an estimated 4.3 million people in northeast Syria. It rendered at least 18 water pumping stations and 11 power stations non-operational, including the Sweidiya power plant, which provided electricity to over one million people, and the north Qamushli (Qamişlo) electricity transfer station, which supported 40,000 families.
In addition to the loss of power and water supply, critical oil installations and the only operational gas plant for domestic use in northeast Syria were damaged by the strikes, further exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation.
The city of al-Hasakah, which has been grappling with a severe water crisis since Turkey’s 2019 incursion into northern Syria, was hit especially hard by the recent attacks, putting at risk the right to clean water for nearly a million people, including both residents and displaced communities.