Oil leak from Syria may pass by Northern Cyprus

An oil slick in the Eastern Mediterranean from Syria may pass by Northern Cyprus, a senior Turkish Cypriot official said on Tuesday.

“We were happy to learn that the fuel flowing in a significant amount will pass tangentially to the TRNC (the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus),” Tourism and Environment Minister Fikri Ataoglu told Anadolu Agency, referring to the massive fuel oil leak from Syria last week.

Its source was a power plant in Syria’s northwestern city of Baniyas, located on the Mediterranean coast, according to pro-Assad regime media outlets.

“But sadly, it will leave very deep scars wherever it goes because there is a great amount of leak,” Ataoglu added, underlining that Turkish Cypriot authorities have taken all measures against the spill.

The TRNC has deployed technical teams on the matter, along with its coast guard and environmental officials monitoring developments from the Karpaz area, he said.

Ataoglu said he held several phone calls on Monday with Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoglu and Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum, who sent a team of experts to the TRNC to help in the efforts against the oil slick.

For his part, Karaismailoglu sent research vessels, which are now on alert off the country’s northeastern tip in the Karpaz area, the Turkish Cypriot minister added.

Noting that the TRNC had experienced another oil leak eight years ago, Ataoglu said the negative environmental effects of this incident still continue.

Ataoglu stressed that the oil leak from Syria would not only damage the water’s surface but also negatively affect the marine species under the sea.

The oil spill, reportedly heading towards the island of Cyprus, has not yet been seen on the TRNC shores.

The TRNC has established a crisis management desk in response to the oil from Syria, Prime Minister Ersan Saner announced on Tuesday.​​​​​​​

President Ersin Tatar said authorities are closely monitoring developments.

Later in the day, Saner said the pollution by leaked oil has shifted toward Syria according to the latest data.

Addressing a news conference on the issue, he said the western side of the Mediterranean faced a grave risk due to the leak of 15,000 tons of oil.

He also stated that Turkey provided both technical and logistics assistance amid the crisis and enabled the TRNC to analyze the issue in a more comprehensive manner.

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