Turkey’s October Campaign – Airstrikes Targeting NES’ Essential Infrastructure

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On the night of October 4th, Turkey began a multi-day airstrike campaign in the autonomous region of North and East Syria (NES), systematically targeting essential civilian infrastructure, killing 48 people, including 9 civilians, and injuring 47, including 15 civilians.

Turkey carried out 25 warplane strikes and 64 drone strikes, hitting oil fields, electricity plants, water stations, a hospital facility, gas production stations, and industrial sites. This was Ankara’s worst military escalation in NES since 2019, and put essential infrastructure out-of-service, cutting electricity and water serving homes, internally displaced peoples (IDP) camps, hospitals, bakeries, mills, pharmacies, and schools, stopping production of fuel and gas, and leaving the governing Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) with the unfeasible task of repairing the extensive damages.

The cascading effects of Turkey’s intentional destruction of infrastructure touched all aspects of civilian life. The region enters winter without sufficient heat, power, or water while the significant damage done to oil infrastructure and fuel production has economic implications that will have further adverse effects on humanitarian services. While quick-fix solutions and unsustainable stop-gap measures enabled a relatively swift restoration of basic humanitarian services, the AANES does not have the economic and logistical capacity to fully restore all infrastructure – even with the help of the region’s smattering of NGOs.

This report documents Turkey’s attacks and presents an overview of the post-attack situation regarding electricity, oil and gas, water, healthcare, education, and food and agriculture, explores the possibilities for repairing the damages – including costs of doing so and challenges therein – and covers the impact of Turkey’s attacks on the fight against ISIS and efforts to combat drug trafficking in NES. Zooming out, it also consider Erdogan’s use of F-16 warplanes in the context of a potential impending sale of such warplanes from the U.S. to Turkey, the Coalition’s response to Turkey’s attacks, and Turkey’s potential breaches of international law in reference to accusations that Turkey is committing war crimes in NES.