Islamic State hostilities with rebels combined with rapid inflation have caused a fuel crisis that has all but paralyzed the work of the Civil Defense (White Helmets) in the north of Syria, the head of the rescue organization told Syria Direct Wednesday.
“The main reason for the fuel cutoff in the Syrian north is the ongoing conflict between the Islamic State and opposition brigades, combined with a rise in the price of fuels—if they’re available at all,” said Raed a-Salih.
IS has stopped allowing convoys carrying fuel to pass westward from areas under their control, said Hukm Abu Riyan, spokesman for the pro-opposition Hama Media Center, without specifying the origin of the convoys.
“They’re cutting off the heads of fuel truck drivers,” Abu Riyan added.
The Civil Defense issued a call for aid on Monday in which it implored humanitarian organizations and those responsible for the crisis to “resolve this problem as soon as possible so we might avoid a fast-approaching humanitarian disaster.”
Civil Defense head Saleh said that attempts to eradicate the Islamic State will not help in the short term, adding that “expelling IS is a farfetched solution that requires time.” Saleh proposes a “food for fuel” exchange with the Islamic State, “seeing as IS is in need of food and the liberated [rebel-held] regions need fuel.”
The White Helmets are not the only medical organization to be hit by the fuel crisis. The rebel-affiliated Hama Health Administration, responsible for providing medical services in that province’s northern countryside, declared the suspension of all hospital and clinic work on Monday because of a diesel shortage.
Above, members of the Civil Defense earlier this week in the Idlib countryside.
-Photo courtesy of Tariq Wahoub
By Abdulrahman Hajjar