Despite a UN call for a ceasefire in Syria during the global pandemic, Turkey continues to attack North and East Syria directly through shellings and bombs. They have also cut off the water supply to over 600,000 people in the Hasakeh and Qamishli regions in North and East Syria, leaving a large number of people without drinking water or the capacity to wash their hands or maintain basic hygiene.

It seems that even a global pandemic will not stop Turkey’s genocidal aggression against the Kurds and the people of North and East Syria.

“‪While the whole world is busy confronting coronavirus epidemic, Turkey is bombing our people,” said Ilham Ahmed, Executive President of the Syrian Democratic Council.

Turkey Bombs as Virus Spreads

Not a day has passed without Turkish aggression against North and East Syria, despite the global pandemic. Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, called for a ceasefire in Syria on March 30. “We need the kind of sustained period of calm that a nationwide ceasefire would ensure” to confront the Coronavirus, said Pedersen.

“The past days have seen a heightened artillery bombing campaign by Turkish forces in Shebha region, home to c. 200,000 Kurdish IDPs displaced in the Turkish invasion of Afrin,” said the Rojava Information Center (RIC) in a tweet on April 11.

In one clear case of an attack by the Turkish military, a Turkish drone hit a position south of Tel Rifaat in North and East Syria on April 13. There were no casualties.

“Turkey has stepped up its daily attacks, targeting all villages along the frontlines indiscriminately,” said a local reporter, according to the RIC.

Even prior to the pandemic, each of these attacks constituted a war crime and possible act of genocide. Now that the world has been paused by the Coronavirus, a bright light has been cast upon these violations.

Turkey Deprives Over 600,000 People of Water

Turkey has cut off the output from the Allouk water station, a critical piece of infrastructure in North and East Syria which Turkey captured in their October 2019 invasion. This water station provides clean water, especially drinking water, to over 600,000 people in the Hasakeh and Qamishli regions, and surrounding areas.

“Turkish authorities should immediately do everything they can to resume supplying water through the Allouk water pumping station,” said a statement by Human Rights Watch, an international watchdog organization.

In a strategy to hold everyday people hostage, Turkey has been cutting off water as a pressure tactic to force the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) with an ever-increasing amount of electricity to the Al-Mabrouka power plant, to be used by the Turkish occupying forces in Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tal Abyad (Gere-Spi) in North and East Syria.

Now, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the deprivation of water threatens to increase the spread of the virus. It is a grossly inhumane action that will have impacts back into Turkey and across the globe.

Turkish and Turkish-backed forces are occupying the areas of Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) and Tal Abyad (Gere-Spi), and the major region of Afrin, which are all part of North and East Syria. They have been occupying since their violent and widely-condemned invasion of North and East Syria in October 2019. The AANES and its allies have repeatedly called upon the international community to pressure Turkey to withdraw all of its forces from its region.