Turkey accuses Syrian Kurds of cutting off water

Turkey has denied obstructing water supplies to areas in northern Syria and accused the Kurdish militias and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forces of being responsible for the cuts, Middle East Monitor said. 

Turkish Defence Ministry spokesman Olcay Denizer said last week that Ankara had repaired the Allouk water plant in Syria’s Hasakah province after it had “been rendered unusable by the PKK/YPG terrorist organisation” following Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in October last year.

Ankara sees the SDF and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been fighting for self-rule inside Turkey for more than 30 years. 

Denizer said the repairs enabled water to be “supplied to Hasakah and its rural areas in November 2019.”

However, the facilities require a sufficient supply of electricity from the areas held by the YPG and the SDF, and this has been obstructed by the militias’ “deliberate disconnection and insufficient transmission of electricity” from the Tishreen power plant, Denizer said. 

“The frequently-cut and already insufficient electricity supply has prevented the water wells in the Allouk water plant… from working at full capacity,” Denizer stated. This caused severe water problems in the region and “great distress” for its people, he said. 

Turkey’s statement follows months of accusations from the Kurdish militias and others in the international community that Turkish forces have weaponised the water supplies that they control in northern Syria by withholding them from the local population, Middle East Monitor said. 

Turkish and Russian forces agreed in December last year to maintain an adequate supply of services in the area, with Turkish-backed forces to provide water to the SDF-controlled areas of Hasakah and al-Darbasiyah, in exchange for Russian forces and the Kurdish militias providing electricity to the town of Tel Abyad and its surrounding areas.

But Denizer said that, as of April 1, only 10 megawatts of the region’s requirement of 70 megawatts of electricity were being supplied. 

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