Executive Summary 

The Qweik River rises in Turkey and discharges in Syria, forming a closed drainage basin. Before the 1950s, the Qweik was the main source of freshwater for the city of Aleppo. However, the river and tributary springs have today run dry as a result of rising demand in Aleppo, the regulation of the river, and the over-exploitation of groundwater resources.

The Qweik currently flows partly intermittently before reaching Aleppo, after which it becomes a permanent carrier of wastewater generated from households and industries in the city.

Water from the Qweik has been used intensively for irrigation around Aleppo, posing a serious threat to public health and the environment. Syria initiated a project in 2006 to supply the river with freshwater from the Euphrates. Additional projects to construct wastewater treatment facilities are planned.

Main Agreements 

Turkey - Syria (French Mandate)

1921 – Franklin-Bouillon Agreement in which reference is made to the rule of equitable utilization and the importance of ensuring water supply to the city of Aleppo.

Key Concerns 

Water Quantity

Water diversions and groundwater over-abstraction in the basin have caused most springs to dry up, turning the Qweik into an intermittent river in its upper reaches.

Water Quality

The Qweik carries a mix of domestic-industrial, treated-untreated wastewater that has been used for irrigation since the 1980s, presenting potential risks of crop contamination. The geological setting of the basin also makes groundwater resources particularly vulnerable to contamination from agricultural drainage.

  • The Qweik River in Aleppo, Syria, 2012. Source: Harout Minassian.
  • The city of Aleppo, Syria, 2010. Source: Bernard Gagnon.

Basin Facts 

Riparian Countries Syria, Turkey
Basin Area Shares Syria 88%
Turkey 12%
Basin Area 6,941 km2
River Length 167 km
Mean Annual Flow Volume 82 MCM
Dams 3
Projected Irrigated Area --
Basin Population ~5.5 million