Charles Lister Profile picture
Feb 6 34 tweets 31 min read
Northwestern #Syria#Idlib & #Aleppo in particular — have suffered 12yrs of brutal conflict. More than 65% of the basic infrastructure of the area is destroyed or heavily damaged.

Tonight’s earthquake couldn’t have hit a more vulnerable region.

An absolute disaster.
Utterly horrific reports coming from all across NW #Syria - every town I’ve heard from has dozens of buildings flattened. People stuck under the rubble.

Any many, many casualties — including children.

@SyriaCivilDefe will be heroes tonight, working amid heavy rain & sleet.
I’ve heard from x3 hospitals in #Idlib & N. #Aleppo — all are full, every bed taken by emergency cases following tonight’s earthquake.

As rescuers & civilians seek to extract people & belongings from rubble, there’s mass panic about aftershocks.

@SyriaCivilDefe stretched thin.
NW #Syria is home to the world’s biggest & most acute humanitarian crisis — & thanks to #Russia, the international community can provide aid through only one crossing point, to 4.5 million people.

Disaster response isn’t part of that equation & #Assad’s regime won’t give any.
#Turkey has requested international emergency assistance & they should get it ASAP.

But a major global effort needs to mobilize *now* to assist #NW #Syria - a semi-besieged, war-scarred region with 4.5 million of the worlds most vulnerable people.

But it’ll require bold action.
If #Assad’s regime had its way, NW #Syria would be besieged into brutal submission. It opposes *any* humanitarian aid.

An international disaster relief operation would require acting unilaterally — otherwise this population will remain abandoned to fend for themselves. Again.
One single hospital in one town of NW #Syria (in #Atareb) has reported 18 deaths already — per @sams_usa.

At a rough count, I’ve seen ~25 more deaths reported elsewhere, but expect these numbers to rise, I fear considerably.
BREAKING - sustained and very strong aftershock just now at the epicenter of last night’s earthquake in S #Turkey & NW #Syria.

That’s what everyone feared, as rescues continue & structures struggled to stand.
The latest death tolls from #Syria total 850+ dead — but the number is likely to rise markedly, as rescue operations continue apace & that aftershock will have made things a lot worse.

What an unfathomable disaster, amid winter & a spiraling economic collapse.
The Turkish Army, which has 70+ positions across #Idlib, is dispatching rescue teams with heavy equipment to rescue civilians under the rubble.

One source told me “100s” probably “1,000s” are buried under collapsed buildings - many alive & screaming for help.
One @sams_usa hospital in Atareb in W. #Aleppo has reported 89 dead with "many more" serious cases evacuated to Bab al-Hawa on the #Turkey border.

That's from one town, 150km from the epicenter.
@sams_usa This is what remains of an orphanage in #Sarmada, #Idlib -- one young child was killed & 5 injured.

50 others, by some miracle, managed to escape unhurt.
@sams_usa #Turkey death toll has reach 1,121 & 7,634 more wounded. A total of 2,834 buildings have been completely destroyed.

In #Syria, we're looking at 900+ dead, but the rescue efforts are struggling capacity-wise & the infrastructure was far more vulnerable.

What a tragedy.
@sams_usa In #Salqin, #Idlib -- this boy was trapped under the collapsed upper floor of a multi-story building, his body hanging over the edge.

By some miracle, he's been extracted alive.
@sams_usa Here are 2 comments I've heard this morning from NW #Syria, that place this catastrophe in its broader horrific context:

- "Those living in tents are the lucky ones."

- "At least we're not being bombed this time, while we rescue people in the rubble."
@sams_usa Bear in mind that NW #Syria is currently home to ~2.8 million displaced people -- a majority of whom reside in IDP camps.

Most of the camps were already over-capacity, but the scale of destruction caused by this earthquake is going to see camps swell more than ever before.
@sams_usa I'm seeing lots of pledges of international support & disaster relief to #Turkey -- & a #Russia mission to help #Damascus.

But no indication of any international effort to assist the 5 million most vulnerable people in NW #Syria.

Yes it's complex, but it's urgently needed.
@sams_usa This is a residential area on the outskirts of Harem in #Idlib.

24hrs ago, there were 25 separate 5-storey buildings -- but today, it's all rubble.

Locals say 500-700 may have died in Harem, altogether.
@sams_usa "Thousands" of homes have been destroyed in NW #Syria -- meaning 10,000s of civilians are likely now homeless, without any form of shelter.

IDP camps look likely to swell, while they're already far beyond capacity.

Meanwhile, the UN says cross-border aid has been hit hard.
@sams_usa Prior to the earthquake, the UN said cross-border aid into NW #Syria was only 40% funded.

Now the main road leading to Bab al-Hawa has been heavily damaged, which will severely curtail meaningful aid flows.

The displacement & humanitarian crisis is spiraling as you read this.
@sams_usa I just saw a video from #Antakya Hospital in southern #Turkey -- there must have been 100+ dead bodies filling multiple hallways, each covered with blankets.

A complete disaster.
@sams_usa The #HTS-linked Salvation Government in #Idlib has issued a public call for foreign journalists & news channels to "cover the disaster left by the earthquake."

"We affirm our readiness to coordinate & arrange media work for all media outlets & journalists," they say.
@sams_usa The death toll in NW #Syria has risen to 700, with 2,000+ wounded.

@SyriaCivilDefe says "hundreds" more bodies remain stuck under rubble, so this toll will continue to rise.
@sams_usa @SyriaCivilDefe For now, official death tolls suggest 3,000+ have died in #Turkey & #Syria combined.

The @WHO just said it's possible 20,000 may have been killed by the earthquake.

Meanwhile, NGOs in NW #Syria have confirmed Bab al-Hawa -- the only aid crossing -- is currently 100% inactive.
@sams_usa @SyriaCivilDefe @WHO To my knowledge, every single hospital in NW #Syria is now over capacity.

Evacuation of critical patients to #Turkey was ended overnight.

The White Helmets are running out of diesel to operate heavy equipment.

IDP camps taking in a mass of newly homeless, displaced people.
@sams_usa @SyriaCivilDefe @WHO When #Russia periodically threatens to end cross-border aid access into NW #Syria, the UN & NGOs warn of an "unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe."

Well, now we have no cross-border aid access AND a catastrophic earthquake, mass destruction & 1,000s of casualties IN WINTER.
@sams_usa @SyriaCivilDefe @WHO A major aftershock just hit southern #Turkey & NW #Syria -- described by locals as equivalent in severity to the first two earthquakes.

It's dark now, very cold & raining.
@sams_usa @SyriaCivilDefe @WHO I don't think we've come anywhere close to hearing the scale of the tragedy in NW #Syria.

Rescue personnel say 733 dead -- but in countless towns, locals are reporting 100s of bodies stuck under rubble.

In Jindires alone, locals say 600-800 are buried (via @SchoenbornTrent).
@sams_usa @SyriaCivilDefe @WHO @SchoenbornTrent As if to make matters worse, pro-#Assad forces appear to have just shelled the opposition-held town of Marea in northern #Aleppo.

The town was hit hard by the earthquake & people are still being rescued.
This child’s entire family were killed in the earthquake — and by some miracle, she survived, but left an orphan.

Born into a 12yr-old war & confronted with the ugly reality this world can represent.

No more words.

Imagine living through 12yrs of horrendous, brutal conflict — like #Ukraine every year, 12 times, with chemical weapons too — then as things calm just slightly, you get hit by a catastrophic earthquake that flattens the little that survived the last decade.

That’s NW #Syria.
Remarkable footage, as 3 young children & their father are rescued from the rubble of their home in NW #Syria.

Absolute heroes, @SyriaCivilDefe.

This baby girl was born under the rubble of her home in #Afrin in NW #Syria — rescuers discovered her this afternoon, still attached by her umbilical cord to her mother, who had tragically died.

I mean, there are no words.
So, #UAE, #Algeria, #Tunisia, #Egypt, #Jordan & #Saudi have all pledged aid to #Syria.

To my knowledge, it'll all be delivered to #Damascus.

That means nothing will get to the northwest, where 4.5 million people are completely alone & cut-off.

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More from @Charles_Lister

Feb 3
According to recent leaks, #ISIS's evolved administrative structure is ruffling some internal feathers in the #MiddleEast.

The crux of internal tensions lies in the increasingly blurry lines of authority over operations, leadership succession & resource use in #Iraq & #Syria.
Leaks claim #ISIS's "Ardh al-Mubarakah" office manages operations in #Syria, #Lebanon & #Turkey, while the Bilad al-Rafidayn office runs #Iraq.

The latter was also running ops in #Iran -- until recently at least, when #Iran was folded into the #Afghanistan "Al-Siddique" office.
These recent leaks - from normally reliable sources - claim Abu al-Hassan's succession in March 2022 was decided by the Ardh al-Mubarakah office, without any consultation with the Bilad al-Rafidayn office in #Iraq.

He then risked locating to #Daraa, also without any consolation.
Read 7 tweets
Feb 3
أمر ما يجب أن نقدّمه لسوريا -- 13 عاما من الأزمة المستمرة تتجه نحو انهيار حتمي

- مقالتي الجديدة في @ForeignPolicy:

* (عربي)

*… (الإنجليزي)
الأزمة #السورية ستدخل عامها الـ 13 في مارس/آذار القادم، ورغم أن مستوى العنف في جميع أنحاء البلاد منخفض الآن نسبيا مقارنة بالسنوات الماضية، فإن الأزمة ما زالت بعيدة جدا عن نهايتها، وفقا للأكاديمي تشارلز ليستر:
نشرت مجلة "فورين بوليسي" مقالا لمدير برامج #سوريا ومكافحة الإرهاب والتطرف في معهد الشرق الأوسط ،(@MiddleEastInst) تشارلز ليستر، قال فيه إن الوضع الراهن في البلاد غير مستدام على الإطلاق وسيتغير لا محالة.…
Read 4 tweets
Jan 26
Yesterday saw an intriguing incident outside al-Bab in northern #Aleppo:

- A prominent member of a pro-#HTS [semi-breakaway] wing of Ahrar al-Sham, Saddam al-Mousa (Abu Uday) was killed outside his home in what was described as a "drone strike."
Abu Uday had become notorious for facilitating #HTS's advance into northern #Aleppo in Oct 2022 -- & in its wake, he secured control of the valuable al-Hamran crossing (to #SDF areas) & agreed to share its revenue streams with #HTS.

He was also a known player in the arms trade.
Abu Day's stubborn refusal to back down & turn al-Hamran back to the Syrian National Army (SNA) had become a source of acute frustration for #Turkey -- both #TSK & MIT.

Numerous attempts were made to evict him, by force & negotiation & their failure was grating Turkey-SNA ties.
Read 6 tweets
Nov 30, 2022
NEW - #ISIS announce the death of leader Abu al-Hassan al-Qurashi -- "killed in action," but no details as to when or where.

His replacement is named as Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini.
Lots of rumor swirling re. #ISIS's leader's death.

- Some (linked to #SDF) say he was killed in a joint US-SDF raid in NE #Syria.

- Some (linked to opposition) say he was killed in #Idlib, either (a) Nov 19 during a reported #HTS SSG raid, or (b) Nov 26 in an unreported op.
- And still others (mostly observers) think this is all a ruse & #ISIS leader Abu al-Hassan is still alive.

As always with #Syria, it'll take time for reality to emerge. Time to do some digging.
Read 6 tweets
Nov 29, 2022
As with most things @BBCRosAtkins, this was good.

One thing — as @GaryLineker admits, the @BBC (& the West writ large) failed to hold #Russia to account in ‘18 (amid FAR worse crimes/abuse). Time to acknowledge there’s probably a reason why. Nobody’s willing to go there, though.
@BBCRosAtkins @GaryLineker @BBC A tale of double-standards:

2018, batting away criticism of #Russia:

- "Who are we to start getting judgmental on who should have the World Cup?"

2022, on #Qatar:

- "It’s the most controversial World Cup in history.. corruption.. migrant workers.. women's rights.. LGBTQ.."
@BBCRosAtkins @GaryLineker @BBC And now news that @GaryLineker was paid ~$2 million by #Qatar for coverage of the Champions League until 2012 -- including *after* #Qatar won the World Cup bid and before any of the reforms that followed.

Some consistency would be nice.…
Read 5 tweets
Nov 11, 2022
The @UN's Alena Douhan (from #Belarus) just wrote a 6,500-word report on sanctions & human rights in #Syria.

She visited #Syria for 12 days -- but only spent time in #Assad-held areas.

Her conclusion?

Lift all sanctions. Finance reconstruction. Nothing was the regime's fault. Image
@UN That the @UN calls Douhan an "independent human rights expert" is staggering.

She made no effort to visit areas not controlled by #Assad's regime & goes out of her way to thank the regime for how "transparent & constructive" it was during her visit.

Yes, I bet they were. Image
@UN Throughout her 6,500-word report, the @UN's "expert" makes repeated citations to "data & reports received during my visit."

Guess what? All that "transparent" data blames #Syria's ills on foreign powers. There's a surprise.

But our "expert" doesn't question that. Of course not.
Read 10 tweets

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