Owner of mill in NE Syria incurs heavy losses due to Turkish strikes

By Samer Yassin

HASAKAH, Syria (North Press) – Abdullah Darbas walks inside his mill in the countryside of Amuda, northeastern Syria, picking up fragments of Turkish drone strikes. He collects some of these fragments which are lodged in flour sacks that had been prepared to be sent to bakeries in the city of Hasakah and its countryside.

Abdullah Darbas, 55, owns the al-Khayrat Mill, which was targeted by a Turkish drone on Jan. 14 with two strikes. The attack injured workers, in addition to knocking the facility out of service.

Turkey has targeted 89 sites in northern and northeastern Syria during the first half of January 2024, with 122 strikes, 62 of them by drones and 22 by warplanes.

The Turkish bombardment has focused on power and fuel production facilities, as well as sites of the Internal Security Forces of North and East Syria (Asayish). In addition, it targeted four sites of Syrian government forces.

However, the strikes have also hit civilians’ homes and private facilities, such as the al-Khayrat Mill near the village of Sanjak Saadoun in the countryside of Amuda.

Crucial like air

Darbas, speaking to North Press, states that he and his workers are civilians with no connection to military or political entities. He emphasizes that producing flour, which is sent in quantities to all Syrian regions, is by no means a military activity.

The strikes caused the mill’s production to cease as the Turkish drone targeted the milling section of the facility.

With work halted, 50 workers have lost their source of income. They are uncertain how long they would stay like that because repair work takes time.

The mill’s owner adds that his workers, distributed among 25 families, are already facing worsening living conditions and that they would stay without an income for at least a month.

The mill had a daily production capacity of 50 tons of flour and was one of the largest mills in Hasakah Governorate.

Darbas is concerned that Turkey might target his facility or other mills in the region, leading to a shortage of a key product for the residents’ livelihoods. “Bread here is like air and water.”

Injuries and Losses

The Turkish drone attack resulted in injuries to two workers. 45-year-old Muhammad Kheir al-Sheikh was injured in the foot, while 23-year-old Hussein al-Husseino sustained shrapnel injuries in various parts of his body. They are still receiving treatment after being transferred to a hospital in the city of Qamishli.

Hussein al-Husseino, a maintenance worker whose family resides in the al-Zuhour neighborhood in Hasakah, recalls being in the milling section checking the machines when the projectiles hit the facility and fire broke out. He says, “I plodded to the front door of the mill and fell to the ground because I couldn’t walk.”

A relative of the injured worker pulled him into a car and rushed him to a hospital in Amuda and then to a hospital in Qamishli, where it was discovered that he sustained shrapnel injuries to his hands, feet, abdomen, chest, and back.

For the past 10 years, al-Husseino, along with other relatives, has been working in machine maintenance.

The worker states that the Turkish claims of targeting fighters are false to all the workers who know that there is not a single military personnel among them. He says, “We are all poor. We left our homes and areas and came to work in this facility.”

The Turkish Defense Ministry has published a video showing the targeting of the mill and other sites, claiming that the targeted sites belonged to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters.

The mill requires repair work that may cost over $60,000 to restore it to its previous state, according to the owner’s estimates.