Syria Today – Devastating Earthquake Death Toll Exceeds 7,200

While a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Turkey and Syria early on Monday, Ankara has resumed strikes on Tel Rifaat.

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 defence 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 Turkey 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. In total, between Turkey and Syria, more than 7,200 people have died.

Government response

The Council of Ministers approved an executive action plan to manage and organize relief operations in the governorates (Aleppo, Lattakia, Hama and Tartous), SANA reported.

PM Hussein Arnous said his government allocated SYP 50 billion (less than $8 million)as an initial amount to finance the emergency operations taken to deal with the effects of the earthquake.

Arnous, accompanied by the Minister of Health, Dr. Hassan al-Ghobash and the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Muhammad Saif al-Din, inspected the damaged sites in the city of Jableh and were briefed on the operations of removing rubble and rescuing the injured.

“There are great efforts being made by all the concerned authorities, and we directed the governorate of Lattakia to provide what guarantees the optimal functioning of work in the city of Jableh and to take an immediate decision regarding the severely damaged buildings,”، Arnous said in a statement.

Defense Minister

General Ali Mahmoud Abbas, toured several sites damaged by the devastating earthquake that hit the city of Alep.

General Abbas was briefed on the rescue work and the removal of rubble in a number of the city’s neighborhoods, which are carried out with the participation of all governmental and private agencies in the governorate along with the Syrian Arab Army units.

Arab response

Several Arab leaders spoke with President Assad and dispatched aid to Syria in response f the earthquake.

UAE

President of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan instructed his government to send $50 million to relief those affected at the earthquake in Syria, Emirati News agency WAM stated.

On Monday, the UAE announced its intention to establish a field hospital and to send a search and rescue team and relief supplies to Syria to help the country overcome the repercussions of the earthquake that hit it on Monday dawn.

Oman

President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday received a phone call from Sultan Haitham bin Tarik bin Taimur al Said of Oman in which he expressed His Majesty, and the people of Oman’s solidary with the brotherly people of Syria due to the catastrophe resulted from the destructive earthquake.

Algeria and Egypt

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, during a phone call with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, offered his sincere condolences to the President and the Syrian people for the victims of the earthquake that hit Syria, stressing Algeria’s solidarity and standing by the country in addition to its full readiness to continue in exerting all efforts that would mitigate the severity of this painful ordeal and its impacts.

Algeria announced sending urgent aid to Syria to provide relief to the afflicted in the devastating earthquake hit the country at dawn Monday, causing hundreds of deaths and injuries.

President al-Assad also received a phone call from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, in which El-Sisi affirmed Egypt’s solidarity with Syria and its brotherly people and its keenness to provide aid to help the Syrian people overcome this painful calamity.

Sisi expressed his sincere condolences to the hundreds of victims and wished a speedy recovery for the injured.

Iran

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi affirmed that the Islamic Republic of Iran stands by Syria in the ordeal it is facing due to the devastating earthquake, expressing sincere condolences and sympathy to all Syrians and wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

During a phone call with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, president Raisi considered that, based on the strategic relations that bind the two countries and based on humanitarian principles, Iran stands in solidarity with the Syrian people in these compelling circumstances and will do everything possible that would mitigate the effects of this ordeal and support the tireless efforts of the Syrian government in this regard.

Prisoners escape

Prisoners mutinied in a northwestern Syria prison Monday following a deadly earthquake, with at least 20 escaping the jail holding mostly Islamic State group members, a source at the facility told AFP.

The military police prison in the town of Rajo near the Turkish border holds about 2,000 inmates, with about 1,300 of them suspected to be IS group fighters, said the source.

The prison also holds fighters from Kurdish-led forces.

“After the earthquake struck, Rajo was affected, and inmates started to mutiny and took control of parts of the prison,” said the official at Rajo jail, which is controlled by pro-Turkish factions.

“About 20 prisoners fled… who are believed to be IS [group] militants.”

Turkey Targets Syria’s Aleppo Countryside Amid Devastating Earthquake

Kurdish news agency North Press accused Turkish forces on Tuesday of shelling the vicinity of the town of Tel Rifaat in Aleppo northern countryside through a devastating earthquake struck each of Turkey and Syria on Monday at dawn.

The shelling caused damage to residential houses, according to the source.

The town of Tel Rifaat, 35 km north of Aleppo city, has been a shelter for Afrin displaced people since 2018 following the Turkish invasion of Afrin and its countryside, which resulted in the displacement of about 300.000 of the original inhabitants.

There are 1.662 displaced families from Afrin and 35 displaced families from Idleb live in Tel Rifaat, according to statistics carried out by the Autonomous Administration of Afrin, which is currently operating in the northern countryside of Aleppo.

According to the same source, there are also 630 families that include about 3.000 people of original residents in the town.

The shelling occurred as Turkey and Syria were incurring impacts of the devastating earthquake that killed and wounded thousands of people.

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