Russia, Turkey reach deal to end NE Syria water, power cuts

Russia, Turkey say deal reached to end northeast Syria water, power cuts
2 min read
09 August, 2021
Hassakeh province's Alouk water station, which the UN has described as the only viable water source in northeast Syria, will be put back into service, after months of interruptions to drinking water supplies.
Residents of northeast Syria have been suffering from weeks-long cuts to their water supply since Turkey invaded northeast Syria in October 2019 [Getty]

The Russian and Turkish military have reached a deal to resume water and electricity supplies to households in northeast Syria, according to media reports on Sunday.

Hassakeh province's Alouk water station - which the United Nations has described as the only viable water source in northeast Syria - will be put back into service after months of interruptions, Anadolu Agency said.

As part of the agreement, areas of northeast Syria under Turkish control will receive increased electricity supplies, Russian state media outlet TASS said

An official from the Kurdish-led administration of northeast Syria, speaking to local media outlet North Press Agency (NPA), denied that any such deal has been reached, as the station is only operating at a limited capacity.

The energy official told NPA there had been indirect talks between the Kurdish-led and Turkish forces with Russian mediation since early in July.

Alouk supplies water to almost 460,000 people in both Turkish and Kurdish-controlled areas of northeast Syria.

In October, Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies occupied a 120-kilometre (75-mile) stretch of land inside the Syrian border, including the Alouk water station that provides supplies to Hassakeh.

Kurdish officials say Turkey is now using the water station to pressure the local authorities into giving them more electricity in areas Ankara seized from them, cutting the water supply more than a dozen times since 2019.

Turkey claims the station has merely been under maintenance, and says the Kurdish-led forces have blocked off electricity supply to areas under Turkish control.

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The UN warned last month that the water shortage was leading locals to take dangerous measures. 

"Reports indicate that families are resorting to potentially unsafe sources of water or limiting consumption, which may contribute to growth in a range of potentially fatal water-borne diseases, and further undermine the already fragile public health," the UN's children's agency said in a statement.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said last week that drinking water supplies had returned to the city of Qamishli, a few days after a maintenance team accompanied by Russian and Turkish forces restarted the station after a resumption of electricity supply.