Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood without fuel, regime tightens noose
Enab Baladi – Khaled al-Jeratli
The Kurdish-dominated Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood of northern Aleppo city has been witnessing daily “rationing” of electricity since mid-November, which lasted for more than 12 hours due to the regime-imposed siege.
The neighborhood that is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is usually supplied with fuel from the regime-held areas, but the fuel tanks were not monitored by the residents at the checkpoints of the entrances to Sheikh Maqsoud as usual.
The diesel outage caused an almost complete power outage, and the residents of the region depended on “ampere” electricity generators.
Kurdish Hawar Agency, based in northeastern Syria, reported on 27 November that the neighborhoods of Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafieh are witnessing a “dark night” with a complete power outage due to the “siege” imposed by the regime forces on the area.
Siege associated with Turkish escalation
The siege of Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood in Aleppo is not the first of its kind, as the regime forces have always closed their checkpoints around the area, which is considered an extension of the areas of influence of the SDF, in addition to small neighborhoods inside Aleppo city.
Observers say the difference this time is that the siege coincided with a bombing campaign launched by the Turkish army against the SDF in various locations in northern Syria, but Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood is not included.
Enab Baladi contacted local sources inside Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, including Khaled, 21, who withheld his full name for security reasons, said the power outage was caused by the siege and barring fuel entry to the neighborhood, especially since the regime has precedents in this matter.
Khaled added that the Turkish escalation does not target Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood to be affected, hinting that the crisis is related to the regime itself.
Last April, the Syrian regime forces imposed a siege on Sheikh Maqsoud, banning basic materials entry to the area, including bread.
In retaliation, the SDF imposed a siege on the regime areas in the northeastern city of al-Hasakah (known as the Security Square).
Khaled told Enab Baladi that the movement of entry and exit from the neighborhood has not changed for civilians, and their treatment has not changed, with the exception of occasional thorough inspections.
While the same checkpoints continued to impose royalties on goods entering or leaving the neighborhood, which led to an increase in prices there.
Meanwhile, the owners of the private electricity generators responsible for supplying homes with electricity intended to reduce the daily supply rate to less than half in light of the scarcity of the fuel needed to operate it, according to Khaled.
Neven, a pseudonym for security reasons, told Enab Baladi that electricity is available only at random times during the day.
The young Kurdish woman, who lives in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, added that the fuel shortage also reflected on heating allocations that have not been distributed yet despite the extreme cold with the onset of winter.
Residents of the area said the rationing is to secure fuel to the main bread bakery in the neighborhood so work is not being halted, in order for the shortage that the neighborhood witnessed at the beginning of this year would not be repeated.
No fuel trucks
Neven told Enab Baladi that she goes to the regime-held areas on an almost daily basis, but there are no fuel tanks or cars parked at the checkpoints.
Usually, queues of cars pile up when the regime checkpoints block commercial traffic in the area, which has happened in previous times.
While the movement of the checkpoints is considered regular, with the state of tight security checks at the checkpoints from time to time, in search of unregistered mobile phones or foreign currencies that residents may carry.
Enab Baladi contacted a worker in the oil sector affiliated with the SDF in al-Hasakah governorate to find out the mechanism of oil reaching its areas of influence in Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood.
The source told Enab Baladi that the SDF and the Syrian regime rely on the barter mechanism to deliver oil to the security squares controlled by the regime in al-Hasakah and Qamishli and to the Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafieh neighborhoods in Aleppo.
On a monthly basis, the SDF brings in about 35 tons of crude oil to the regime-held areas in al-Hasakah and Qamishli, free of charge, while the regime brings the same amount to the Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafieh neighborhoods for free as well.
The source attributed the reasons for the lack of convoys of fuel tanks outside Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood to the fact that the regime did not send them to the area in the first place, and therefore they did not reach the checkpoints. On the other hand, the SDF cut off its supply of crude oil to the security squares in al-Hasakah.
At the beginning of this year, a number of civilians and employees of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) demonstrated in Aleppo due to the siege imposed by the Fourth Division on their areas.
At the time, the checkpoints of the Fourth Division prevented cars loaded with flour from entering the neighborhood bakeries, despite the living crisis in the area.
Sheikh Maqsoud is the only area under the SDF control in the city of Aleppo after several military campaigns launched by Turkey against the AANES areas, which led to the reduction of its influence to small neighborhoods of Aleppo and a number of villages in the northern countryside.
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