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Syria Today – Syria Cultural’s Heritage at Risk; AANES Counts Dead After Escalation

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.

A recent report sheds light on the alarming state of Syria’s cultural heritage, facing the imminent threat of permanent loss due to prolonged conflict, rampant looting, and widespread destruction. Over a decade of turmoil has taken a devastating toll on ancient sites, archaeological marvels, and iconic landmarks. Additionally, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) declared the conclusive extent of the damage inflicted by Turkish bombardment between October 5th-9th.

Syria’s cultural heritage could be lost forever

The New Arab discusses the dire situation of Syria’s cultural heritage, which is at risk of being lost forever due to years of conflict, looting, and destruction. Over a decade of conflict in Syria has led to the destruction of ancient sites, archaeological treasures, and famous landmarks. 

The northwest region of Syria, which holds one-third of the country’s rich cultural heritage, has suffered the most widespread looting and destruction. Various armed groups, weak governance, and territorial divisions have made it challenging to protect these cultural assets. 

Cultural artifacts, including valuable coins and sculptures, are being sold on the black market. While some individuals and groups are actively working to preserve Syria’s cultural heritage, the situation remains precarious, and the responsibility for protection must be shared by authorities and society to prevent further losses.

Bad detention conditions inside Turkish deportation camps

Enab Baladi reports that Syrian refugees in Turkish deportation camps are facing dire conditions, with reports of high temperatures inside steel sheet caravans, limited access to water, and inadequate medical care. Turkish authorities have been conducting a security campaign aimed at deporting refugees to Syria, particularly in Istanbul, which has the highest number of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Refugees who violate their identity papers, including Temporary Protection Identification Documents (Kimlik), are transferred to these camps without prior notice, and they are not informed about their destination. This lack of transparency has created uncertainty among the detainees.

In these camps, detainees live in cramped conditions within steel sheet caravans, enduring extreme heat and a lack of clean facilities. They receive minimal meals, and their requests for medical care or visits to doctors are often denied. Many detainees have signed voluntary return papers to Syria, but due to ongoing legal trials, they are prevented from leaving Turkey.

The situation in the Oğuzeli detention center in Gaziantep is equally challenging, as detainees are prohibited from using mobile phones and can make only one phone call per day from a public phone. However, there is a consistent supply of water and electricity in this prison.

Despite the difficulties and conditions they face, Turkish authorities continue their efforts to reduce the number of irregular migrants, including Syrians, in the country. The number of Syrians residing in Turkey has decreased, with many being forced to return to Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that nearly 600,000 Syrians have returned to Syria voluntarily, a statement that has faced skepticism from various quarters.

Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya pledged to reduce the number of irregular migrants within a few months, emphasizing that Turkey is not deporting Syrians. However, many Syrians find it challenging to obtain travel permission and face difficulties in Istanbul as authorities attempt to reduce their presence.

The refugees in these detention camps remain in limbo, uncertain about their future and unable to leave due to legal restrictions, leaving them in dire conditions as they wait for a resolution to their situation.

AANES reveals toll of Turkish attacks on NE Syria

North Press reports that the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) announced on Wednesday the final toll of the damage caused by the Turkish bombardment in its areas of control between October 5-9.

More than five million people have been affected by the Turkish attacks on energy facilities in AANES-held areas. The bombardment targeted 17 installations, including the Sweidiya gas plant which supplies nearly the entire region with gas and power, according to the AANES statement.

The statement said that the strikes hit 11 power stations in Hasakah, Amuda, Rmelan, Tirbe Spiyeh, Qamishli, Derbasiyah, and their surrounding areas.

According to the statement, 18 water pumping stations went out of service in Hasakah Governorate. Two hospitals, one in Derik and the other in Kobani, also went out of commission.

The Turkish bombardment hit 48 educational facilities, affecting thousands of students who are now unable to continue their education. In addition, two children lost their lives in these attacks and another girl was injured and lost her legs.

The attacks caused three industrial facilities to go out of service in Hasakah Governorate and Kobani. Furthermore, a military academy of the Internal Security Forces (Asayish) was hit with an airstrike which killed 29 Asayish fighters and injured many more.

The AANES added that 104 sites were targeted in the bombardment, with their conditions ranging from destroyed, damaged, and out of service. 580 air and ground strikes were carried out from the farthest part of Derik all the way to the northern countryside of Aleppo, covering nearly all AANES-held areas.

The AANES called on all international actors involved in Syria, the UN, the United Nations Security Council, and other parties to take “clear stances regarding Turkey’s practices against our areas and people and regarding its clear obstruction of our people’s endeavours in countering terrorism and maintaining stability in the region, in addition to its obstruction to our joint gains with the [US-led] Global Coalition against the Islamic State [ISIS] and other extremist parties.”

The AANES emphasized the necessity of conducting an open, impartial, and transparent investigation into Turkey’s practices in their regions by specialized international committees.

It demanded that “all those responsible for the destruction and targeting of our people’s livelihoods and causing our children to lose their lives be brought before specialized courts.”

“Turkey commits war crimes in our areas and such acts should not be tolerated,” the statement noted.

No end in sight with continuing widespread and systematic patterns of torture

Below is a joint statement by ISHR and Truth and Justice Charter during the Interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic at the 54th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

During HRC54, HRD Mahmoud Alhamwi delivered a statement on behalf of ISHR and the Truth and Justice Charter group urging States to support the funding for the new institution on the missing, particularly in relation to support for the families of the missing and/or disappeared. Read and watch the statement below:

I speak on behalf of the Truth and Justice Charter, the mothers and families of the disappeared in Syria, and the International Service for Human Rights. We thank the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic for its reports.

The CoI confirmed in its previous report that there was ‘no end in sight’, confirming ‘continuing widespread and systematic patterns of torture and ill-treatment, including enforced disappearances’.

We raise our deepest concern regarding the fate of the protesters in all the regions in Syria – those who are demanding freedom, justice and the release of all prisoners – that their fate will be the same as those who were forcibly disappeared and arbitrarily detained. 

The Syrian regime did not stop the policies of enforced disappearances, arrest and torture in its prisons despite all its claims, and it has not taken any positive action with regard to this issue.

The Truth and Justice Charter called for the establishment of an independent institution to reveal the fate of the missing persons in Syria. Following the establishment of this mechanism, we reiterate the recommendation of the commission of inquiry to ‘support the funding for the new institution on the missing, particularly in relation to support for the families of the missing and/or disappeared’.

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