Syrian Kurds stop operations against Daesh

Syrian Kurds stop operations against Daesh
Above, a convoy of Turkish military vehicles near the town of Hazano in the rebel-held northern countryside of Syria’s Idlib province. (AFP file photo)
Updated 26 November 2022

Syrian Kurds stop operations against Daesh

Syrian Kurds stop operations against Daesh
  • Over the past week, Turkey launched a wave of airstrikes on suspected Kurdish rebels hiding in neighboring Syria and Iraq

BEIRUT: The commander of the main US-backed Kurdish-led force in Syria said Saturday they have halted operations against the Daesh group due to Turkish attacks on northern Syria over the past week.
Mazloum Abdi of the Syrian Democratic Forces told reporters that after nearly a week of Turkish airstrikes on northern Syria, Ankara is now preparing for a ground offensive. He said Turkey-backed opposition fighters are getting ready to take part in the operations.
Abdi added that Turkish strikes over the past week have caused severe damage to the region’s infrastructure.
Abdi said Turkey is taking advantage of the deadly Nov. 13 bombing in Istanbul that Ankara blames on Kurdish groups. Kurdish organizations have denied any involvement in the Istanbul attack that killed six and wounded dozens.
Over the past week, Turkey launched a wave of airstrikes on suspected Kurdish rebels hiding in neighboring Syria and Iraq in retaliation for the Istanbul attack.
“The forces that work symbolically with the international coalition in the fight against IS are now targets for the Turkish state and therefore (military) operations have stopped,” Abdi said, using an Arabic acronym of the Daesh group. “Anti-Daesh operations have stopped.”
His comments came hours after the US military said two rockets targeted US-led coalition forces at bases in the northeastern Syrian town of Shaddadeh resulting in no “injuries or damage to the base or coalition property.”
The US military statement said SDF fighters visited the site of the rocket's origin and found a third unfired rocket.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, blamed Daesh sleeper cells for the Friday night attack on the US base.
“Attacks of this kind place coalition forces and the civilian populace at risk and undermine the hard-earned stability and security of Syria and the region,” said Col. Joe Buccino, CENTCOM spokesman.
The SDF said in a statement before midnight Friday that as Turkish drones flew over the al-Hol camp that is home to tens of thousands of mostly wives, widows and children of IS fighters, some IS family members attacked security forces and managed to escape from the sprawling facility. The SDF did not say how many escaped but that they were later detained.
Kurdish authorities operate more than two dozen detention facilities scattered across northeastern Syria holding about 10,000 Daesh fighters. Among the detainees are some 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them, including about 800 Europeans.


Survivors ‘praying for miracles’ as Turkiye steps up quake rescue efforts

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months
Mesut Hancer holds the hand of his 15-year-old daughter Irmak, who died in the earthquake in Kahramanmaras. (AFP)
Updated 11 sec ago

Survivors ‘praying for miracles’ as Turkiye steps up quake rescue efforts

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months
  • Heavy rain and snow are hindering efforts to save thousands of people trapped under rubble
  • Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months

ANKARA: Turkiye is praying for a miracle as the search continues for survivors of a massive earthquake that devastated southern regions of the country.

Heavy rain and snow are hindering efforts to save thousands of people trapped under rubble as the death toll continues to climb.

More than 5,000 people were killed and 15,000 injured in Turkiye and neighboring Syria when the magnitude 7.8 quake and a series of aftershocks struck in the early hours of Monday.

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months in areas affected by the earthquake, the most severe in the country for 80 years.

The death toll in Turkiye stands at 3,500, with over 22,000 injured and 6,000 buildings destroyed. More than 8,000 survivors have been hauled from the ruins of collapsed buildings.

Authorities warn the number of dead will continue to rise.

Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency for three months. (AFP)

Turkiye has announced one week of national mourning and allocated $5.3 billion in emergency aid, while Turkish Airlines has carried more than 11,000 volunteers to the quake zone.

Tens of thousands of aid workers and emergency personnel have been sent to the affected area as part of national and international humanitarian assistance, with more 70 nations offering help.

Firat Gerger, a lawyer in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, drove his wife and children to their country house after surviving the quake before returning to the city center to join rescue efforts.

“I began evacuating guests from the hotel I own in the Haliliye district of Urfa. Then we noticed that the columns of the building next to my hotel were cracking. The building tilted to one side. We quickly surrounded the building with ropes and moved away nearby cars,” he told Arab News.

Thousands of buildings have toppled to the ground withthousands trapped inside. (AFP)

Gerger and his team climbed through a window into a veterinary surgery on the first floor of the building to rescue animals trapped inside.

However, their attempts to get a refugee family to leave their third-floor apartment ended in tragedy when the building collapsed shortly afterwards.

“We even threw a stone at their window to attract their attention,” he said. “The old building collapsed in seconds under a cloud of dust like in a horror movie,” he said.

The refugees were the only people to remain in the building after calls for evacuation. The bodies of five members of the family were found following the rescue operation.

Millions of Syrian refugees who fled the war in their country now live in the region.

Local people say that many buildings were not built to required standards to withstand earthquakes, and were never inspected properly.

New buildings, even those built only months ago, collapsed in the quake.

Serdar Ozsoy, a photojournalist who reached the port city of Iskenderun yesterday, was in the hard-hit Kirikhan district in Hatay province after the quake struck.

“It is one of the most affected zones. The damage is so widespread that rescue teams cannot be organized effectively. Today the humanitarian assistance seems much better than yesterday. I saw so many tents arriving for survivors. But the rain keeps falling and hampering rescue efforts,” he said.

There have been hundreds of aftershocks. (AFP)

“The first day was critical to find survivors under the collapsed buildings. But now the chances to rescue people are diminishing, apart from miracle cases.”

Ozsoy said that he had talked to a survivor whose house had been ransacked while he was at the cemetery burying his mother.

“The thieves found a golden opportunity to break into his house and steal anything precious,” he said.

Rescue teams from Uzbekistan reached Kirikhan district early on Tuesday, while other international rescuers, including from EU countries, are working across the region.

Turkiye’s Red Crescent is also providing tents and blankets, along with mobile kitchens.

In Hatay, thousands of survivors are sheltering in their cars amid fears of further aftershocks.

“There is an urgent need for cash because there is no electricity and no ATM to draw money,” Ozsoy said.

For many survivors have been left without shelter in the freezing temperatures. (AFP)

In other cities, such as southeastern Gaziantep, stocks of essential items are running low.

Ugur Poyraz, general secretary of the IYI Party, said there is no bread because natural gas supplies to the city were hit by the quake.

“Some local people are trying to distribute soup to the survivors with their own facilities,” he said.

In Hatay, Ghanaian football player Christian Atsu, who made 107 appearances for English Premier League side Newcastle and is now playing for the Turkish club Hatayspor, was rescued from a collapsed building.

Damaged roads, a fire that erupted in Iskenderun port and a blocked airport runway have made access to Hatay province more difficult.

Duygu Duman told Arab News that her relatives could hear voices beneath the rubble of a collapsed building in the center of Hatay, where her grandmother and aunt were trapped.

“My grandmother is very old, she cannot wait for so long. It is a race against time,” Duman said.

Another survivor, Ismail Keser, rescued his sister-in-law from the ruins of a five-story building in Antakya.

“We cannot enter the house because of the aftershocks,” he said. “I’m still involved in rescue efforts, but we are running out of hope. There is a chaos here,” he told Arab News.

 


Jordanian aid plane jets off to Turkiye and Syria

Jordanian aid plane jets off to Turkiye and Syria
Updated 27 min 32 sec ago

Jordanian aid plane jets off to Turkiye and Syria

Jordanian aid plane jets off to Turkiye and Syria
  • A Jordanian rescue team, including five doctors, was also on the plane

AMMAN: Jordan’s first of several aid planes loaded with rescue equipment, tents, and logistical and medical materials for the victims of the earthquake in Syria and Turkiye, took off on Tuesday.
Aboard the plane was a team of 99 personnel from the Jordanian International Search and Rescue Team and five doctors from the Jordanian Royal Medical Services.
Jordan’s News Agency shared on Tuesday a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, saying the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization on Monday evening reached out to authorities in Syria and Turkiye in order to send aid to the areas affected by the earthquake and to take part in rescue operations.
The JHCO is the only entity in Jordan responsible for delivering aid, the statement underscored, and any cash or in-kind donations will be delivered through the organization.


UK activates aid for Turkiye, Syria rescue efforts

UK activates aid for Turkiye, Syria rescue efforts
Updated 07 February 2023

UK activates aid for Turkiye, Syria rescue efforts

UK activates aid for Turkiye, Syria rescue efforts
  • Development minister: ‘The aid budget is under very considerable strain’
  • The UK is sending 76 experts and specialists to Turkiye, as well as an emergency response team

LONDON: The UK is sending aid to Syria and Turkiye to support earthquake recovery efforts, The Guardian reported.

Development Minister Andrew Mitchell said although Britain’s development budget faces “very considerable strain,” there are reserve funds that can be activated to respond to severe humanitarian disasters.

Dozens of countries around the world, as well as hundreds of aid organizations, have committed to sending aid and personnel to Turkiye and Syria in the wake of the earthquakes, which killed more than 5,000 people.

The UK is sending 76 experts and specialists to Turkiye, as well as an emergency response team, Mitchell said.

“The aid budget is under very considerable strain. But Britain always carves out a certain amount to cope with humanitarian crises,” he told Sky News.

The death toll from the series of earthquakes, which measured at magnitude 7.5, could rise to more than 20,000, the World Health Organization has warned.

“There’s continued potential of further collapses to happen so we do often see in the order of eightfold increases on the initial numbers,” said Catherine Smallwood, the WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe.

“We always see the same thing with earthquakes, unfortunately, which is that the initial reports of the numbers of people who have died or who have been injured will increase quite significantly in the week that follows.”


Egypt to send urgent relief aid for Syria, Turkiye quake victims

Egypt to send urgent relief aid for Syria, Turkiye quake victims
Updated 07 February 2023

Egypt to send urgent relief aid for Syria, Turkiye quake victims

Egypt to send urgent relief aid for Syria, Turkiye quake victims

Cairo - Egypt is to send urgent relief aid to Turkiye and Syria following Monday’s earthquake that killed thousands of people in the two countries.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry offered condolences to his Syrian counterpart Faisal Al-Miqdad, informed him about the Egyptian aid, wished success for the rescue efforts, and a speedy recovery for the injured.

Shoukry also passed on his country’s condolences to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Ahmed Abu Zeid, spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said the consular sector in the ministry was in constant touch with the Egyptian embassies in Ankara and Damascus to monitor the situation for Egyptians affected by the quake.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit sent messages to the foreign ministers of Syria and Turkiye expressing “sincere sympathy for this great affliction,” and wishing a speedy recovery for those wounded in the earthquake.


Hundreds still under earthquake rubble in rebel-held Syria — rescue workers

Hundreds still under earthquake rubble in rebel-held Syria — rescue workers
Updated 07 February 2023

Hundreds still under earthquake rubble in rebel-held Syria — rescue workers

Hundreds still under earthquake rubble in rebel-held Syria — rescue workers
  • Rescue effort hampered by freezing conditions
  • White Helmets rescuers seek international help

AMMAN: Time is running out to save hundreds of families trapped under the rubble of buildings brought down by Monday’s earthquake, the head of the Syrian opposition-run civil defense service said on Tuesday.
Raed Al-Saleh told Reuters urgent help was needed from international groups for the rescue effort by the organization known as the White Helmets in rebel-held northwest Syria, where hundreds were killed and injured.
“Every second means saving lives and we call on all humanitarian organizations to give material aid and respond to this catastrophe urgently,” he said.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Turkiye and Syria early on Monday, toppling apartment blocks, wrecking hospitals and leaving thousands of people injured or homeless.
At least 1,444 people were killed in Syria and about 3,500 injured, according to figures from the Damascus government and rescue workers in the northwestern region controlled by insurgents.
Rescue teams worked early on Tuesday to free people trapped in the rubble of buildings in southern Turkiye as the death toll in that country rose to more than 3,400.

 

 

In areas hit by the earthquake in northwestern Syria, rescue efforts were hampered by lack of equipment and freezing conditions. Rescuers cleared piles of debris using makeshift tools and their hands.
“There are a lot of efforts by our teams but they are unable to respond to the catastrophe and the large number of collapsed buildings,” Al-Saleh said.
Syria’s Emergency Response Team, a non-governmental organization that operates in the rebel-held enclave, said snow storms had closed roads within makeshift camps that house tens of thousands of displaced Syrians.
“We have great difficulty in getting heavy equipment because of the large spread of places that were affected,” said Salamah Ibrahim, a senior rescuer operating in the city of Sarmada, where a whole neighborhood fell to the ground.
The rebel-held enclave in the northwest of Syria is a refuge for around four million people, many of whom have been uprooted by a Russian-backed Syrian government assault that turned the tide in favor of President Bashar Assad during the more than decade-long Syrian conflict.
“Most of the hospitals are full and the situation is catastrophic. We are in need of medicines urgently to cover the needs,” said Zuhair al Qarat, head of the health authority in Idlib city.
Damage was also widely seen in government-held Aleppo city’s eastern sector, whose buildings bore the brunt of intensive aerial bombing by Russia and the Syrian military to push out rebels in 2016, according to rescuers and aid workers.