The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

For the first time ever | Water level in Euphrates river down by five metres, as Turkey continues holding back water

Reliable sources in the Syrian Jazeera region have told SOHR that the water level in the Euphrates river is alarmingly decreasing, amid growing fear among the region’s residents of environmental disaster and unexpected consequences. It is worth noting that the water level in Euphrates river is down by five metres for the first time ever at a time when the Turkish government continues seizing Syria’s share of Euphrates water. However, no action has been taken, despite the human rights organizations’ appeals and the residents’ calls for releasing water supply.


According to the agreement signed between Syria and Turkey in 1987 regarding the Euphrates River, Syria’s share of water coming from Turkey is supposed to be 500 cubic meters per second (2500 barrels). However, less than 200 cubic meters of water now reach Syria.


On Sunday, SOHR activists monitored drought in large spaces along the Euphrates river form the Euphrates dam in al-Tabaqah to al-Mansurah dam in al-Raqqah, as Turkey deliberately continued retaining Syria’s share of water with the aim to drain the Syrian Jazeera region. Accordingly, considerable damage plagued the farmlands in the region, affecting two million and half people as well as the suspension of power generators. Meanwhile, popular anger was growing, amid the residents’ demands to the Turkish government to release Syria’s share of water of Euphrates river.


A day earlier, reliable sources in al-Raqqah province told SOHR that the water pumps in Ma’adan Atiq, Ghanim al-Ali in eastern al-Raqqah, and Dabsi Affan in western al-Raqqah were put out of service due to the ongoing drop in water level in the Euphrates river in al-Raqqha countryside, which is under control of regime forces, as Turkey continued retaining water running through its dams to Syria.


On the other hand, power outages plagued the entire areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration because of the suspension of power turbines in the stations of al-Tabaqah dam.


According to SOHR sources, the city of al-Hasakah was suffering a blackout for the third consecutive day, as electricity was available for only two hours a day. Meanwhile, power outage in the other areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration lasts for long hours.


We, at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, warn against an environmental catastrophe threatening food security in the Syrian Jazeera region and a humanitarian crises which poses a threat to nearly two million and half people in different areas in al-Raqqah, al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor and Kobani.


On April 30, SOHR sources reported that Turkey continued to reduce the amount of the Euphrates river water flowing from Turkish territory to the Syrian side, as water in the Euphrates river in Syria reached its lowest level which led to drought of underground wells and significant damage to the environment, livestock and agriculture in villages adjacent to the river. Accordingly, we, at the Syrian Observatory, renew our appeals to the United Nations, humanitarian organizations and all international actors to intervene immediately and exert pressure on the Turkish government to adhere to international agreements regarding the quantities of water supposed to reach Syria.


Reliable sources had told SOHR that the “Energy Board of the Euphrates region” adopted a new system of electricity rationing, decreasing the electricity operating hours in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration, from Ain al-Arab (Kobani) and Sarin in Aleppo countryside to Ain Issa and Tel Abyad countryside in al-Raqqah countryside. According to the new system, these areas would experience power outages for 17 to 18 hours every day. Meanwhile, “Energy Board of the Euphrates region” attributed the decrease in the electricity operating hours to the ongoing water retention by Turkey, as Turkey decreased the amount of water pumped to Syria via the Euphrates river.