Syria Crisis Worsens as Euphrates Dries Up

The Euphrates River that is the biggest clean water supplier for Syria has been drying up. The electricity crisis also threats the Syrians due to the dwindling dam.

The drying Euphrates River.
The drying Euphrates River. (AFP/Delil Souleiman)

ACTNews, SYRIA – Euphrates is the longest river in West Asia that crosses three Asian countries including Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. It streams from eastern Turkey to Syria and Iraq, then gathers with Tigris River in Shatt Al-Arab River which emptied into the Persian Gulf.

The Euphrates has been the largest water supplier in the West Asia region, especially Syria. Many Syrians use the Euphrates River water to meet their daily needs including irrigating their farmland. In northern Syria, Euphrates flow is used to generate and supply the electricity needs for millions of Syrians.

Unfortunately, these past few months, Euphrates has been dwindling. The water debit has been drastically decreased. Experts also have warned about an impending humanitarian crisis in Syria particularly the northeast where river flows are decreasing more rapidly than any other region.

One of the Syrian farmers, Khaled al-Khamees (50) explained that he relies on the Euphrates River to irrigate his olive plantation. However, due to the subsiding river, Khaled can hardly afford water for his family.

“It’s as if we were in the desert, we’re thinking of leaving because there’s no water left to drink or irrigate the trees,” said Khaled.

The father of 12 said he had not seen the river so far away from the village in decades.

“The women have to walk 7 km [4 miles] just to get a bucket of water for their children to drink,” he said.

Over the past eight months, the river has contracted to a sliver, sucking precious water out of reservoirs and increasing the risk of dam turbines grinding to a halt.

At the Tishrin Dam, an “alarming” drop in water levels has not been seen since the dam’s completion in 1999. “It’s a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Tishrin Dam director, Hammoud al-Hadiyyeen.[]