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Severe Aleppo water
crisis nears an end

Syria's second city has suffered from a three-months long water shortage, the worst of the war.

Aleppo water. (AFP/Karam al-Masri)

BEIRUT – The flow of water into war-torn Aleppo has resumed after a three-month service stoppage left beleaguered residents in both regime and opposition-held areas scrambling to secure bathing and drinking water from wells.

 

“Water from the Euphrates River… arrived to the [Bab al]-Nayrab and Suleiman [al-Halabi] Stations in Aleppo and in the coming hours is expected to start pumping into the neighborhoods of Aleppo,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Friday morning.

 

State-owned Tishreen Online touted the development, saying that the Al-Khanfsa Water Treatment Facility—which was knocked offline by Russian bombardment—had resumed pumping water into Aleppo Friday morning.

 

The regime outlet cautioned that it will take around 20 hours for the water to reach the Suleiman al-Halabi station, which will then require a stable electrical supply—either from the public grid or back-up diesel generators—for it to pump water into the city itself.

 

Aleppo has been bereft of water since late November after a Russian airstrike damaged the Al-Khanfsa Water Treatment Facility, which is located in ISIS-held territory approximately 100 kilometers east of Syria’s second city.

 

Al-KhanfsaA screengrab from a Russian Ministry of Defense video shows the airstrike on the Al-Khanfsa facility. 

 

The November 26 airstrike targeting the plant cut water flow to approximately 3.5 million people, however partial repairs left 1.4 million Aleppo residents with reduced supply, according to UN.

 

Syria’s state SANA news agency blamed the strike on the US-led coalition bombarding ISIS targets, however Russia’s Defense Ministry released a video showing its bombardment the water treatment plant, which it claimed was an “oil facility.”

 

Aleppo-based activist Zein Halabi told Syria Direct that even though the Al-Khanfsa facility is located within ISIS-held territory, the regime has been able to conduct repairs on it under the auspices of the Red Crescent.

 

“The regime had no choice but to in a way cooperate with ISIS–if they hadn’t, then water would not be delivered to regime-held areas in Aleppo city,” the activist explained.

 

Although Aleppo has suffered from a number of water shortages throughout the war, the latest one has been the most severe in the entire conflict.

 

AFP earlier in the week published a feature on the suffering of Aleppo residents due to the service cut, highlighting their efforts to secure water.

 

"My family and I were forced to drink from the wells, which poisoned me and one of my children,” one of the residents told the news agency. 

A Syrian boy holds a plastic container filled with water. (AFP/Karam al-Masri)

Water from the Euphrates River… arrived to the [Bab al]-Nayrab and Suleiman [al-Halabi] Stations in Aleppo and in the coming hours is expected to start pumping into the neighborhoods of Aleppo.