Syria Today – Turkey Strikes SDF; Mental Health in Syria in Dire State

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

On Monday, a Turkish air strike claimed the lives of 20 Kurdish security personnel and left dozens wounded at a police training center in northeast Syria held by the Kurds. Meanwhile, on World Mental Health Day, a report sheds light on the pressing concern of psychological well-being in conflict-ravaged areas, notably in northern Syria. While the visible aftermath of the Syrian war is marked by physical devastation, the profound mental impact on the population, especially children, is frequently underestimated.

The US will likely ‘go to war’ in Israel with air and naval power if Syria or Iran become actively involved, retired 4-star general says

The US is likely to directly intervene with air and naval strikes if Israel’s existence is threatened, Ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey was quoted as saying by The Business Insider.

Speaking on Sunday on MSNBC’s “Weekends with Alex Witt,” the four-star US Army general described how such an escalation likely would only occur if Israel’s Middle Eastern neighbors became heavily involved.

“The other shoe we’re waiting to see if it drops is, will Hezbollah intervene out of Lebanon with their 100,000 some odd rockets? Will the West Bank ignite? And what will the Syrians and the Egyptians do?” McCaffrey said.

“I would suggest to you our support of Israel will be absolute, and if we see Syrian military intervention, active Iranian military intervention, we’ll go to war,” McCaffrey added.

Hamas militants launched a series of surprise attacks and rocket barrages against Israel on Saturday, killing hundreds and capturing dozens of hostages along the border of the Gaza Strip. Israel has declared war in response.

The Israel Defense Forces say 700 Israelis have been confirmed dead, while another 1,500 were wounded. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Health Ministry said at least 400 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes, Reuters reported.

The US announced on Sunday that it is sending an aircraft carrier strike group, including F-35s and F-16s, to patrol the Eastern Mediterranean and deter all-out war involving Israel’s neighbors.

“They’re there for more than a show of force or a potential noncombatant evacuation,” McCaffrey, who served in the Gulf War and led the US Southern Command from 1994 to 1996, told MSNBC.

Turkish strike on Kurds in Syria kills 20: Monitor

A Turkish air strike on Monday killed 20 Kurdish security personnel and wounded dozens at a training center for police in Kurdish-held northeast Syria, a war monitor said.

Turkey has been bombing sites in the area since Thursday, hitting civilian and military targets and infrastructure and causing casualties, according to Kurdish authorities.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor, said that 20 people had been killed and around 50 wounded after a Turkish warplane targeted a training center belonging to Kurdish internal security forces, known as the Asayish, on the outskirts of Al-Malikiyah.

The Kurdish force acknowledged the strike, saying that “a number of our forces were killed and others wounded.”

AFP correspondents said that authorities in the area have called for blood donations, while witnesses said that hospitals were full of casualties.

Amid the chaos of Syria’s long-running civil conflict, Syria’s Kurds have carved out a semi-autonomous area in the country’s northeast.

Turkey’s defence ministry said on Friday that it had launched a new wave of air strikes in retaliation for an attack in Ankara earlier this month that wounded two security personnel.

A branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies — claimed responsibility for the first bombing to hit the Turkish capital since 2016.

Mazloum Abdi says Turkey tries to undermine the efforts of AANES

North Press quoted Commander in Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Abdi as saying that Turkish attacks aimed at undermining the efforts and capabilities of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).

Abdi said in a statement on X that during the past 72 hours, Turkey had targeted more than 145 locations in areas held by the AANES, including power stations, water and energy facilities, hospitals, and schools.

“Turkish recent attack directly aimed at undermining the efforts and capabilities of the AANES with hostile political intentions and a deliberate attempt to disrupt civilian life, according to the commander in chief.

This represents an assault on international efforts and the work of civil society organizations and institutions that work to establish stability and serve the local population after the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS), the statement read.

“The destruction of infrastructure amounts to war crimes and cannot be described as anything less than that,” according to the statement.

On Oct. 5th, the Turkish army launched drone strikes on infrastructure facilities in several areas of north and northeast Syria that are run by the AANES. The strikes took place following a statement by Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan, in which he threatened to strike a broader range of targets in Syria and Iraq in retaliation for the Ankara attack.

Unseen Wounds: Mental health is not a priority in northern Syria

People In Need published a long report on a different kind of wound which Syrian people are experiencing. 

As the world marks World Mental Health Day, the focus shifts to the critical issue of psychological well-being in conflict-ridden regions, particularly in northern Syria. While the physical devastation caused by the Syrian war is evident, the mental scars it has left on the population, especially children, are often overlooked.

The Syrian conflict has subjected countless children to violence, including bombings and shootings, leading to profound trauma. Many have lost family members, experienced displacement from their homes, and been forced into child labor. A study by MedGlobal revealed that a staggering 89.2% of Syrians living in wartime conditions exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders.

Several factors contribute to the dire state of mental health in Syria. The prolonged conflict, mass displacement, stigma around mental health issues, and a lack of understanding about psychosocial support have all created significant challenges. Moreover, there’s a shortage of qualified mental health professionals and limited access to essential services.

Over 6.5 million children in Syria are in need of mental health support, and this number has been rising steadily. Failure to address their trauma can lead to lifelong psychological scars, impacting their health and future prospects.

Two primary barriers to accessing mental health support are cultural factors and economic constraints. Stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues often deters individuals from seeking assistance. Additionally, economic challenges, such as the cost of therapy or transportation to mental health services, further hinder access to care.

One heartwarming story from northern Syria highlights the resilience and compassion of individuals affected by the conflict. Ali, who lost his wife and home in a shelling incident, found and cared for four orphaned children. Despite doubts and objections from his community, Ali raised these children as his own. After reuniting the children with their mother four years later, Ali and Amina got married and became a blended family.

However, their story also reflects the harsh realities faced by many Syrians. The ongoing war has shattered their sense of security, and poverty forces parents to choose between their children’s mental well-being and physical survival. Access to education and mental health support remains limited.

Efforts by organizations like People in Need are making a difference. They have established community-based outreach programs, provided access to quality education and psychosocial support services, and organized social cohesion events to strengthen social bonds in affected communities. Individual assistance programs, including the provision of essential devices, aim to improve the overall well-being of individuals.

While progress is being made, the mental health crisis in Syria requires broader recognition and action. Mental health support must become a universal human right, accessible to all, to heal both the visible and invisible wounds inflicted by the Syrian conflict. The scars of war, whether seen or unseen, must be acknowledged, treated, and healed through increased access to mental health services, education, protection, and humanitarian aid for Syrian children and their families.

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