Human Rights Watch Urges Turkey to Cease Targeting Civilian Infrastructure in Northeast Syria
In a recent report released on Friday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for urgent action to address the dire humanitarian situation unfolding in northeast Syria, also known as Rojava. The rights organization condemned Turkey's ongoing airstrikes targeting critical civilian infrastructure, which have exacerbated water, fuel, and healthcare crises in the region.
According to HRW, repeated strikes on essential facilities such as hospitals, bakeries, and water facilities have left them in ruins, rendering them inoperable. The dwindling fuel supply, crucial for cooking, heating, and farming, has further compounded the challenges faced by civilians in the region.
The escalation in airstrikes follows Turkey's retaliation for the deaths of 12 of its soldiers in the Kurdistan Region last December, attributed to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (DAANES), governing Rojava, reported widespread power outages affecting over 2,600 villages due to Turkish airstrikes targeting power stations in Qamishli. Key infrastructure including oil fields, refineries, and hospitals have also been targeted.
Turkish state media reported the destruction of nearly 50 facilities alleged to belong to the PKK in Qamishli, Kobane, and Amuda, with Ankara claiming to have targeted "high-profile terrorists" in the strikes.
In response to the ongoing strikes, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have accused Turkey of committing war crimes aimed at causing harm to civilians and disrupting daily life. The airstrikes have resulted in electricity and water shortages, forcing clinics and bakeries to halt operations, while hospitals rely on emergency generators for power. Additionally, an oil spill into a local river, caused by the strikes, has severely impacted farmers who rely on it for irrigation.
Turkey has conducted numerous air and ground operations against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Rojava, alleging the YPG to be the Syrian branch of the PKK.
As the crisis deepens, HRW has called on Turkey to immediately cease targeting critical civilian infrastructure, uphold international humanitarian law, and hold those responsible for violations to account. However, Ankara has yet to respond to these demands, leaving the civilian population in Rojava grappling with an increasingly dire humanitarian situation.