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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Doctors Without Borders Suspends Operations as Turkish Forces Move In

By Durin Hendricks October 15, 2019

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF, announced that it would be suspending its operations in northeastern Syria due to "extreme volatility in the region."

Since Oct. 9, MSF has evacuated its staffs from hospitals in the Kurdistan region of Syria after the start of Turkish military operations in the area.

Robert Onus, MSF emergency manager for Syria, said the Turkish military engagement will "increase the need for humanitarian assistance" but that the organization could not provide it with the current "insecurity."

"We cannot operate at scale until we can gain the assurances and acceptance of all parties to the conflict that we can operate safely," said Onus.

According to MSF, the Syrian government has not authorizated the organization to operate in the country. With The Syrian Democratic Forces entering an alliance with the government, MSF's lack of authorization could continue be an issue.

Most of the towns and cities that hosted MSF facilities and doctors were cities controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. Many of the locations were liberated from Islamic States of Iraq and the Levant insurgents in 2015.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), which is the Syrian government's state run media, has reported that soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army have entered key points in the northeast to "face Turkish aggression."

With the evacuation of personnel, the organization said it would maintain indirect ways of supporting Syrian facilities. The support would include financial assistance, remote training of personnel, and donations of medical supplies and equipment.

"We are also extremely worried about the safety of our Syrian colleagues and their families who remain in northeast Syria in these troubled times," Onus said. "We will continue to support our colleagues remotely and explore all possible options to deliver assistance to the people in northeast Syria, despite the constraints."

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