on the Euphrates, villagers accuse Turkey of waging a water war

Since May, residents of northeastern Syria have noticed a visible drop in Euphrates water levels. This historic river has its sources in Turkey and waters the whole of northern Syria. Villagers in the self-proclaimed autonomous Kurdish region, controlled by the Syrian democratic forces, accuse the Turkish authorities of using dams to monopolize the valuable resource.The waters of the Euphrates had seldom been filmed at such a low level: in videos uploaded to social networks, residents of northeastern Syria comment on whether the state of the river has decreased to a stream in some areas.

“Today, Turkey has cut the Euphrates,” the author said in a video posted on June 29 near Raqqa, which has been widely shared since early July. We go and walk towards the void. Water is cut off for all acidifiers. Here is what remains of the Euphrates ”.

The region has experienced a continuously declining water level since the late 1990s. In question called a giant Turkish hydropower project “Southeastern Anatolia” (Gap). The GAP includes 22 dams and 19 hydropower plants that use the Tigris waters, which include Iraq, and the Euphrates, a source of important water for Syria and Iraq. The project’s largest dam, the Atatürk Dam, is located on the Euphrates.

Turkish dams located on the Euphrates and Tigris have a total capacity of 60 km3 of water. The Turkish GAP project plans to consume up to 22 km3 per year, which significantly reduces the Syrian and Iraqi part of the river’s waters. Graphics from the National Center for Water Resource Management in Iraq.
The Euphrates then crosses the Syrian border to reach the respective dams of Tishrin (located in the district of Manbij, upstream of the Tabqa dam), Tabqa (located in the province of Raqqa, south of Manbij) and Al Baath (20 km north of Raqqa) in the northeast of the country . Since 2017, the three dams have been under the control of the autonomous administration of northern and eastern Syria under the leadership of the Kurdish forces in the SDF.

This map shows the three dams located on the Euphrates in Syria: Tabqa, Tishrine and Al Baath dams. They are all under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In this video published on July 22 on the local news site “Eye of the Euphrates“A fisherman from Deir Ezzor explains that the water in the river is declining daily. “The water reached the trees [il indique l’endroit]. Everything that has disappeared today and our crops are suffering a lot, he explains.

In April, the average flow of the Euphrates from Turkey was 200 m3 / s, ie 300 m3 / s less than what is stipulated in the agreement between the two countries, says the General Autonomous Administration of daily dams Asharq Al Awsat.Euphrates, a river in the middle of conflicts

According to international law, the Euphrates is considered an international river because it crosses several states. The latter has historically been the subject of conflicts between the three countries concerned. In 1987, a temporary agreement was reached that Turkey, which hosts the source of the river, would provide at least 500 m3 / s of water flow to the Syrian authorities, which in turn would share a similar flow with Iraq.

This agreement lasted in practice until 2012. When The Syrian regime no longer controlled the region northeast, the watercourse on the Syrian coast of the Euphrates began to become more regular. After that, SDS has regained control of the region in October 2017, the flow of water at the Tishrin Dam decreased from 690m3 / s in January to 226m3 / s in December, according to a 2017 report from Jazeera township by the Kurdish Autonomous Administration in Northeastern Syria.