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Syria appeals to Israel for help via Russia following devastating earthquake

The IDF has dispatched a 150-strong delegation to Turkey that specializes in emergency rescue services.

Members of the Knesset Guard, IDF Home Front Command, Israel Fire and Rescue Services and Magen David Adom participate in a drill near Ashkelon simulating response to an earthquake, Dec. 19, 2019. Photo by Yaniv Nadav/Flash90.
Members of the Knesset Guard, IDF Home Front Command, Israel Fire and Rescue Services and Magen David Adom participate in a drill near Ashkelon simulating response to an earthquake, Dec. 19, 2019. Photo by Yaniv Nadav/Flash90.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime sent Israel a “near unprecedented” appeal for aid following the severe earthquake that hit the country on Monday.

Israel received the request through Russia.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake centered in southern Turkey killed more than 2,300 people, according to the latest numbers. Of those, at least 771 dead and more than 1,000 injured were in Syria. In the areas under the control of Assad’s regime, 371 deaths were reported.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel will help Syria, as well as Turkey.

“I have instructed to send, at the request of the Turkish government, rescue teams and medical aid…. Since a request was also received for many victims of the earthquake in Syria, I have instructed that [aid for them to be extended] as well,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister noted that Israel helps in emergency situations across the world, and would certainly act similarly in its own region.

The aid that will be transferred to Syria will be in the form of humanitarian supplies such as medicine, tents and blankets. However, unlike with Turkey, where two aid delegations will be sent, no delegation will enter Syrian territory.

The IDF sent a 150-strong delegation to Turkey, including regular and reserve troops who specialize in providing emergency rescue services. The delegation, which was slated to arrive in Turkey Monday night, is being headed by Col. (res.) Golan Vach, commander of the IDF National Rescue Unit.

Earlier Monday, a small IDF team landed in Turkey to survey the hard-hit areas and devise a plan based on the situational assessment carried out on the ground. The IDF is also preparing to have its Medical Corps set up a field hospital if that is determined appropriate.

The military said the forces will cooperate with their Turkish counterparts and other delegations from around the world.

The earthquake toppled hundreds of buildings in Turkey and Syria early on Monday, causing shockwaves felt across the region, including in Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Israel.

Emergency medical services in Turkey and Syria said that the death toll was expected to rise in both countries as hundreds of people most likely remained trapped under collapsed structures.

The quake struck just after 4 a.m., 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) east of Nurdagi, Gaziantep Province, at a depth of 17.9 kilometers (11.1 miles), and was followed just over 10 minutes later by a 6.7 magnitude aftershock, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Just before 1 p.m. another powerful 7.5 magnitude quake struck 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) southeast of Ekinözü, Turkey, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), said the USGS.

Israelis reported feeling both tremors in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and throughout the North.

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