The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria is waging a comprehensive struggle against drug networks and the spread of these poisons n the society. This struggle is not limited to security measures, but extends to working to educate society as well.
With the increase of attacks on the region and the multiplicity of its methods, the Autonomous Administration has intensified its struggle to confront these attacks. The anti-drug operation that was undertaken by the Internal Security Forces until 2022 in the same year turned into an institutional work, on June 26, 2022, that is, on the International Day for Drug Control, the General Administration for Drug Control was established in NE Syria. This department is organized under the umbrella of the Internal Security Forces as a special unit, and its only mission is to combat these networks, and it trains all members of this unit to combat drugs, and after this training, branches were opened in all cities and regions of NE Syria.
The Director of the General Department for Combating Terrorism in NE Syria, Hassan Kanoo, indicated that they - and due to the increase of drug networks in the region after the Turkish occupation attacks - found it necessary to work on this issue in particular and establish a special apparatus to deal with it, and he confirmed that they are cooperating with the rest of the security institutions.
Members of the General Administration for Drug Control, within the framework of their work from time to time and in the institutions of the AANES, hold awareness lectures and seminars on methods of combating drugs, and according to the annual plan of the General Administration, these lectures are held in universities, schools and among people on a monthly basis, and they also work to educate the people in the neighborhoods as well. As for the cultivation of cannabis and the manufacture of these substances, members of the General Administration for Drug Control, together with the municipal teams and the Health Body, carry out inspections in agricultural areas, detergent production factories, and pharmacies.
In the context of drug control, legal changes have also been made, as a life sentence has been added to the laws, and according to the laws of the Social Court, drug dealers or those involved in these drug networks are sentenced to imprisonment from 10 years to life imprisonment, while drug addicts are sentenced to imprisonment from 3 months to 1 year.
Health Authority procedures and measures
The Health Body has established a control committee to review medicines and chemicals. Committees consisting of members of the General Administration for Drug Control and members of municipalities inspect pharmacies and medicines stores. According to the information provided by the co-chair of the Health Authority, Jiwan Mustafa, among the authority’s decisions is that medicines containing narcotic substances should not be dispensed except according to a medical prescription, and they must be according to the quantities determined by doctors, and if any pharmacy violates these decisions, it will be punished according to the committee report with penalties; Such as warning or paying a fine, or arresting officials, or confiscating licenses, and finally closing the pharmacy.
Dr. Jiwan Mustafa pointed out that it is difficult to monitor health, in light of the blockade imposed on the region and the attacks it is exposed to, but they are working to do so according to their capabilities.
Within the framework of its efforts to help and rescue drug addicts, the Health Body is preparing to open addiction treatment centers. The co-chair of the Health Body, Dr. Jiwan Mustafa, revealed that they have set, within their annual plan, a program to treat drug addicts, and he said: “We seek to open addiction treatment centers, that is why we have called on many international organizations to provide assistance".
Dr. Issa Hammadi, one of the doctors who treats drug addicts at Al-Furat Hospital in Manbij, highlighted the psychological and physical damage of drugs and pointed out that the effect of drugs starts from causing physical pain and reaches the point of suicide, as it keeps addicts away from society, and he explained that in 2020, the World Health Organization classified drug addiction as the first disease in the world, and said: "This disease is more difficult than cancer, Corona, AIDS and all other diseases.
Hammadi, who has rescued and treated 15 people from addiction so far, explained that treating addiction is very difficult, while the capabilities of the region are limited, so drug addicts return to drug use again after two or three months of treatment. Hammadi indicated the need for a special center and doctors specialized in treating addiction, and he said that a special hospital should be opened to treat addiction.
Measures of the Education Authority, women's and youth organizations
In order to educate the community, the Education Authority in the AANES holds awareness lectures and seminars on drug abuse, these lectures are held in cooperation with the Health Body, the Syrian Revolutionary Youth Movement, the security forces and Shler Committee for Child Protection. The importance of drug control in schools is also explained, and the Sports and Youth Committee publishes anti-drug awareness posters and brochures.
While the Kongra Star, and women’s councils and communes hold seminars to educate the people about the dangers of drugs, and the social academies that hold courses for the people, stressing the importance of drug control.
Women's committees in Deir al-zor, Tabqa, Raqqa, Manbij, Kobani and Shahba organized various programs to combat drugs, while the Youth and Sports Committee in Deir al-zor carried out a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs.
The Revolutionary Youth Movement in cities distributes posters and holds lectures and seminars to educate young people about the harmful effects of drugs. As a result of these activities, parents whose children have begun to use drugs or who suspect their children of drug use report to the security services. A state of caution has also been created about people spreading drugs in the community.