“Euphrates Shield” areas in July 2021 | Nearly 15 people killed in separate attacks and rivalries, and “al-Bab Is Thirsty” campaign tops the events
Since Turkish forces and their proxy factions captured several areas in Aleppo after a military operation known as “Euphrates Shield”, humanitarian crises have been emerging and worsening gradually, with violations, attacks and explosions occur almost daily. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored and tracked July’s prominent developments in these areas, which could be summarised in the following main points:
Human casualties: figures and details
In July, SOHR activists documented the death of 13 people in “Euphrates Shield” areas. The breakdown of fatalities was as follows:
- A man was killed in an armed fight between two families in Mare’ city in the north of Aleppo.
- Three members of Sultan Murad Division were shot dead by another member of the same faction.
- Two Turkish-backed militiamen were killed in an infiltration operation by Manbij Military Council Forces on positions of the factions on the frontline of Basaljah village in the south of al-Ghandourah in the eastern countryside of Aleppo.
- A member of Jaysh al-Sharqiyah faction was found dead with gunshot wounds in the area between Tel Sha’ir and al-Humayr villages in Jarabulus countryside in the north-east of Aleppo.
- Two Turkish-backed militiamen were killed in another infiltration operation by Manbij Military Council Forces on positions of the factions on the frontline of al-Ghandourah in Mnabij countryside.
- A Turkish-backed militiaman was shot dead by Manbij Military Council Forces on the frontline of Jatal in Manbij countryside.
- Three Turkish soldiers were killed in an attack by Kurdish forces on a military vehicle on Hazawan frontline in the eastern countryside of Aleppo.
Fights and rivalries
In July 2021, “Euphrates Shield” areas, in the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo in particular, experienced three family and factional rivalries as follows:
- July 1: An armed fight erupted between two families in Mare’ city in northern Aleppo for unknown reasons. The clashes left one person dead and others injured, before a military group of Liwaa al-Waqqas intervened and broke up the clashes.
- July 7: Violent clashes erupted between Liwaa Shamar operating under the banner of al-Hamza Division on one hand, and al-Jabha al-Shamiyyah and Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement on the other in al-Sokariyah area, near al-Bab city in eastern Aleppo. According to SOHR sources, the clashes followed disagreements between the factions over opening a road for smuggling goods and people to regime-held areas in the region.
- July 22: Violent clashes erupted between military groups of al-Jabha al-Shamiyyah and Ahrar al-Sham in al-Sokariyah village in al-Bab city in eastern Aleppo. The clashes, which left three members of Ahrar al-Sham wounded and resulted in burning down headquarters of the faction, followed disagreements between the factions over a road used for smuggling goods and people to regime-held areas.
The Syrian Observatory could document two explosions in “Euphrates Shield” areas in July, as a motorcycle-bomb parked near al-Haal market in Jarabulus city exploded on July 12, which caused material damage. A few hours later, an IED exploded in a car in al-Bab city in eastern Aleppo.
In early July, residents in al-Bab city which is under the control of Turkish-backed factions in eastern Aleppo released appeals and a campaign dubbed “al-Bab Is Thirsty” after most of the wells in the region which supplied al-Bab city with water became dry. In addition, the water coming from al-Ra’i city was interrupted due to the shrinking aid and the increase of cost of delivering water to that region. It is worth noting that the pumping of water from al-Ra’i city to al-Bab city cost around 100,000 US dollars per month because of the fuel high prices which worsened the water crises, especially with the current hot Summer, which indicated to a looming humanitarian catastrophe.
The price of a water tank with a capacity of five barrels exceeded 20 TL (2.5 USD) which equaled the wage of a worker’s eight-hour shift.
Drinking water prices increased daily due to the increasing demand and the water tanks owners’ greed, amid the local councils’ inability to put an end to this crisis. The water crisis in the city was worsened even more following regime forces’ cutting off the drinking water to Ain al-Baydaa station which was supplying al-Bab city with water.
Local sources in al-Bab city confirmed that wells became dry due to the low winter rainfall as well as the fact that some water wells became undrinkable.
Local councils were seeking for securing drinking water through pumping water from areas under the control of the Syrian regime which refused to provide al-Bab city with drinking water under the pretext that the city was out of its control.
Al-Bab city hosts over 250,000 people, most of them are displaced families with an estimated 60,000 families from the provinces of Damascus, Reef Dimashq, Homs, Hama and other areas in eastern Syria.
While on July 2, a patrol of the “National Army” escorted by military police arrested a former ISIS member, his wife, daughter, his son and his son’s wife in Azaz city. It is worth noting that the arrested individuals were from al-Baghouz town in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.
It seems that the series of violations in “Euphrates Shield” areas will be unstoppable as long as Turkish forces and their proxies keep breaching all international laws and charters, and with no body being able to put an end to these “grave” violations, despite SOHR repeated warnings about the dreadful humanitarian situation in the region.