Written by Bushra Bani-Salman
Syrians affected by the deadly earthquake and aftershocks this month wait to re-enter Syria via a crossing from Turkey. Source: WSJ
The death toll in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 46,000, with the majority of the damage seen in Turkey. United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken landed in Turkey, a NATO ally, to visit Incirlik Air Base, where most aid flows in for earthquake victims. Secretary Blinken met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss increasing earthquake assistance and pledged another $100 million in aid after President Joe Biden’s announced $85 million after the earthquakes occurred two weeks ago.
Most foreign search and rescue teams have left the region, and the Turkish government’s emergency assistance entity, AFAD, is expected to end its rescue efforts Sunday night. The destruction led to more than 84,000 buildings being damaged or collapsed in Turkey, and 9,000 in northwestern Syria, causing thousands of residents to be displaced.
Northwestern Syria has finally received the aid it has needed for approximately two weeks. The earthquake destroyed the road leading to the Turkish border, and the Assad regime had multiple blockades on other borders between the two countries. Despite international efforts to lift the blockades to the border crossings, Russia and China blocked any resolutions from occurring, claiming these efforts violate Syria’s sovereignty. UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths apologized for the delay and absence of international aid, stating that the people of northwest Syria rightly feel abandoned and that this failure will be corrected as soon as possible.
As if matters could not be worse for a country struggling through 12 years of a brutal civil war from an oppressive government and now encountering the devastation of this earthquake, Israeli raids have landed blows on Syria’s Damascus. At least five people have been killed and 15 wounded in Israeli airstrikes on Syria’s capital. The Israeli attack was made on a heavily-populated residential area after Western intelligence said the target was an Iranian-run logistics center. Military analysts say the raids attempt to slow Iran’s infiltration in Syria.
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