On Wednesday, Turkey declared that all Kurdish militant facilities in Syria and Iraq are considered legitimate military targets. This announcement followed the identification of the two individuals who detonated a bomb in front of government buildings in Ankara over the weekend, revealing their origin from Syria. Concurrently, pan-Arab media engaged in discussions about the recent suspension of meetings between the Arab League ministerial committee overseeing Syria’s reintegration and Syrian officials. Sources suggest that one reason for the suspension is the Syrian government’s alleged lack of cooperation in combating the Captagon trade—a form of amphetamine production and trafficking. The article delves into the broader context and explains the role of the U.S. in this dynamic.
Turkey says bombers came from Syria, eyes cross-border targets
Turkey said on Wednesday that all Kurdish militant facilities in Syria and Iraq are valid military targets after it found the two attackers who detonated a bomb in front of government buildings in Ankara at the weekend had come from Syria, Rueters reported.
Turkey’s military conducted air strikes in northern Iraq and staged several raids across the country this week in response to the attack, detaining dozens suspected of alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said the attackers had entered Turkey through Syria and received training there, adding the Turkish response would be “very precise”.
“All infrastructure, superstructure and energy facilities that belong to the PKK and the YPG, especially in Iraq and Syria, are legitimate targets of our security forces, armed forces and intelligence units from now on,” he said.
Turkey has carried out several cross-border incursions into northern Syria in recent years targeting the YPG militia that it sees as an affiliate of the PKK, which is now based in northern Iraq.
McCaul Speaks on House Floor Against Removing U.S. Armed Forces From Syria
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul delivered a passionate speech on the House Floor this week, expressing his strong opposition to H.Con.Res.21, a resolution aiming to direct the President to withdraw United States Armed Forces from Syria. Chairman McCaul argued that the United States is not at war with Syria but is engaged in vital counterterrorism operations against ISIS, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the U.S. military presence to prevent the resurgence of the terrorist group.
McCaul highlighted the success of these counterterrorism efforts, stating that ISIS had been seriously degraded in Syria and Iraq. He reminded the House of the brutal nature of ISIS and the international threat it posed, drawing attention to the terrorist attacks it inspired globally. McCaul praised the U.S. military and its coalition partners for their role in dismantling the ISIS caliphate.
Despite the loss of ISIS-controlled territory, McCaul cautioned against prematurely withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, citing a recent increase in ISIS attacks in the region. He emphasized the effectiveness of the U.S. military in working with local partners to combat terrorism.
McCaul acknowledged the tragic injuries and losses suffered by U.S. servicemembers and their families, calling for a careful reassessment of troop deployments and risks. He pointed to the consequences of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, which led to the resurgence of terrorist threats.
General Mark Milley’s recent visit to Syria reinforced the importance of the U.S. mission there, with Milley warning against ignoring the situation, as it could pave the way for a resurgence of terrorism.
Chairman McCaul argued that the resolution to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria would be premature and could create conditions for the return of ISIS or another terrorist threat. He called for an updated, bipartisan Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to address current security concerns while maintaining congressional oversight.
In his conclusion, McCaul urged his colleagues to oppose the resolution, emphasizing the need to base any withdrawal of U.S. troops on the complete defeat of ISIS. He criticized the premise of the resolution as inaccurate and potentially harmful to U.S. national security interests.
Giving Syrian students another shot at education in the northwest
Omar al-Dabaan, a survivor of a school massacre in Syria in 2018, had to halt his education due to the conflict and the need to support his family. However, he now has the opportunity to continue his studies through the Masarat Initiative, an online education program that provides the Syrian curriculum to students of all ages.
According to an Al-Jazeera report, since its inception in 2020, the initiative has benefited around 18,000 students, and this academic year, over 12,800 students are enrolled. The program is essential in a region where many schools have been damaged or destroyed, and where children face ongoing threats from violence.
Despite the challenges, Omar and others are determined to pursue their dreams of a brighter future through education, highlighting the need for international support to protect and empower Syrian children.
UN supports ‘monumental step’ for cancer sufferers in northwest Syria
The first radiotherapy machine to treat cancer arrived in northwest Syria over the weekend, the UN’s aid coordination office (OCHA) said on Tuesday.
It marks a “monumental step” for cancer treatment in the region said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, briefing reporters in New York.
Radiotherapy sessions have historically not been available in local health facilities, forcing Syrian cancer patients to become dependent on cross-border referrals to Türkiye, he added.
The announcement comes on the heels of multiple advocacy efforts led by the UN and its partners, with the support from the Government of Türkiye.
Syria has been in the grip of brutal civil war for more than 12 years, and the northwest is home to the final pockets of opposition and resistance to the Government in Damascus.
Turkish health authorities have pledged their support for the effort, with Turkish technicians and oncologists operating the machine on-site and training Syrian health workers.
Farmers turn to solar power in Syria’s former breadbasket
Solar panels are helping Syrian farmers irrigate their crops despite electricity shortages and drought, techxplore.com reported.
At his farm in Syria’s northeast, Abdullah al-Mohammed adjusts a large solar panel, one of hundreds that have cropped up over the years as farmers seek to stave off electricity shortages in the war-ravaged region.
Solar energy has offered a lifeline for the farmers amid drought and power shortages, but some warn the boom also has environmental costs in the once-fertile region.
“We are trying to revive our land,” despite dwindling groundwater reserves, said Mohammed, 38, as he oriented the panel towards the sun near his cotton fields.
In his village of Al-Haddadiya in Hasakeh province, farmers are using solar energy to power irrigation systems for all kinds of crops, from vegetables to wheat, barley and cotton.
The father of three said he needs a reliable power supply to pump groundwater around 60 meters deep (nearly 200 feet) now—compared to just 30 meters a few years back.
Northeast Syria is about 0.8 degrees Celsius (two degrees Fahrenheit) hotter today than it was 100 years ago and likely to experience drought every three years, according to a report last year by iMMAP, a Washington-based, data-focused non-profit.
The area was the country’s breadbasket before 2011, when the government repressed peaceful protests, triggering a conflict that has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions.
Will Syria’s Captagon trade cast a shadow over Assad’s normalization?
The New Arab published a long report on Wednesday that discusses the recent suspension of meetings between the Arab League ministerial committee responsible for overseeing Syria’s reintegration into the Arab League and Syrian officials. One of the reasons for this suspension, reportedly under US pressure, is the Syrian government’s lack of cooperation in combating the Captagon trade, a form of amphetamine production and trafficking. The article analyzes the broader context of Syria’s reintegration into the Arab world and its impact on regional dynamics.
The article suggests that the suspension of meetings between the Arab League committee and Syrian officials is attributed to the Syrian government’s failure to cooperate in addressing the Captagon trade. This highlights the complexities and challenges associated with Syria’s reintegration into the Arab League.
The Captagon trade is a significant issue for Arab states, especially those that receive these drugs from Syria. The article suggests that Arab states may not reverse their normalization with Syria solely due to the Captagon issue, indicating that there are other interests at play.
Many Arab League members have sought to normalize diplomatic relations with Syria since late 2018. This effort is driven by various factors, including attempts to counter Iranian influence in the region, address counterterrorism concerns, and deal with refugee issues.
Jordan, according to the report, is highlighted as a country particularly frustrated by the Syrian regime’s unwillingness to address the Captagon trade. Jordan’s actions, such as shooting down drug-laden drones, indicate its commitment to tackling this issue independently.
Syria has attempted to leverage the Captagon trade to extract concessions from foreign governments. However, doubts are raised about the Syrian regime’s ability to effectively use Captagon as leverage if it is incapable of curtailing the trade.
Syria’s economic problems, exacerbated by war, have contributed to the rise in Captagon production. Economic crises, including currency devaluation and widespread poverty, have created conditions conducive to the growth of the Captagon trade.
Western sanctions are mentioned as a contributing factor to Syria’s economic woes. While they may not be the sole cause, they have played a role in the development of black markets and economic difficulties.
The article suggests that Syria’s economy has become a “war economy” due to the Syrian regime’s prioritization of war efforts over finding political compromises. This war economy contributes to the demand for a parallel black market, which the regime uses to finance its military activities.
In summary, the article underscores the complex interplay between Syria’s reintegration into the Arab League, regional interests, the Captagon trade, and economic challenges. It highlights that while the Captagon issue is a concern for some Arab states, it may not be the sole determinant of their policies toward Syria, as they have broader geopolitical and strategic interests in the region.
Rising poverty forces Syrian parents to choose between children’s schooling and survival
An article by Arab News discusses the dire economic situation in Syria and how it is forcing many impoverished families to choose between sending their children to school and having them work to contribute to household incomes. The economic collapse has made it difficult for families to afford essential school supplies, leading to a growing number of children missing school.
Syria is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, with the value of its currency falling to record lows. The economic situation has made it challenging for families to afford basic necessities, including school supplies.
Due to the financial difficulties faced by their families, many children have been forced to work as laborers to help make ends meet. This situation has raised concerns about a “lost generation” of children who may miss out on education.
According to the article, civil society groups in Syria are taking action to address the issue. For example, the Mart Team charity has launched a campaign called “Hope in our pens” to support struggling primary school students by providing them with educational supplies.
The cost of educational supplies for a single primary school student is cited as at least 200,000 Syrian pounds (approximately $16), making it difficult for many families to afford. Additional costs, such as transport and teaching aids, add to the financial burden.
A recent report by UNICEF indicates that in 2022, about 2.4 million children in Syria were not in school, and an additional 1.6 million were at risk of dropping out. The share of the national budget allocated to education in Syria has also decreased.
The Syrian civil war, which began in 2011, has damaged or destroyed approximately 7,000 schools in the country. The situation was further exacerbated by earthquakes in early 2023, which affected opposition-held regions.
The reports says that the Syrian government has taken some measures to address the challenges faced by students and their families. It has urged schools to be lenient in enforcing uniform policies and to reduce demands for certain supplies.
Despite these efforts, the economic crisis continues to impact families and children in Syria. Poverty rates have increased significantly, making it difficult for both students and teachers to cope with the rising costs of education.
International organizations like World Vision are working to rehabilitate schools, provide educational centers, and offer support to families. However, the challenges are immense, especially in regions outside the government’s control.
The article highlights the potential long-term impact of children missing out on education, which could have devastating consequences for Syria’s future.
The economic crisis in Syria has placed a heavy burden on families, making it difficult for children to access education. Despite efforts by civil society groups and some government measures, the situation remains dire, with concerns about the long-term consequences for Syrian children and the country’s future.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.