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Forest fires rage in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey

At least four people were killed in the fires.
Volunteers help to extinguish a forest fire in the Qubayyat area of northern Lebanon's remote Akkar region on July 29, 2021.

Forest fires continued to wreak havoc in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey on Thursday. 

The wildfires in Lebanon took place in the north of the country, specifically in and around the town of Qoubaiyat in Akkar governorate near the Syrian border. The fires were still not under control as of 5 p.m. Thursday as firefighters worked to extinguish them, the official National News Agency reported. 

The Arabic-language hashtag “Akkar is burning” trended on Twitter on Thursday. Some users posted videos of the blaze, which reached people’s homes in some areas. Other videos showed local residents using water to extinguish the flames themselves. 

The fires began in Lebanon on Wednesday. At least one person — a 15-year-old boy — was killed in relation to the fires, according to the Lebanese news outlet Naharnet. 

Lebanon’s fires also spread to neighboring Syria, specifically the Homs countryside in the southwest of the country, according to Syria’s official SANA news outlet. 

There also were a number of forest fires in Turkey’s Mediterranean province of Antalya and other Turkish areas Thursday. Three people were killed; authorities said many buildings, vehicles and farms were destroyed and a number of people were evacuated. 

Lebanon also experienced wildfires in October 2019, as did Iran in June of last year. The Associated Press reported that wildfires  commonly occur during dry summer months in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey.

Coincidentally, the grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Egypt, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, warned this week about the effects of climate change in the region and mentioned rising temperatures. 

The situation in Lebanon could be compounded by water issues. Last week, the United Nations warned that the public water supply system in the country is on the verge of collapse, and that 1.7 million Lebanese already only have access to 35 liters (nine gallons) a day. 

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