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Local councils’ collusion against the Syrian citizen

February 20, 2024 at 9:31 pm

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The opposition Syrian National Army’s areas of civil control are managed by local councils that are supposed to manage all service affairs, including infrastructure, roads, water, electricity and even education.

They also grant licenses to organisations seeking to work within the administrative boundaries of these councils, as well as also supervise the implementation of regulatory plans for residential and industrial areas, sorting lands into agricultural, industrial and residential areas, and draws plans to preserve the resources of those lands, including agricultural crops, groundwater and other resources.

Of course, this is in addition to working to secure a clean environment for citizens by removing garbage and preventing the establishment of environmentally harmful projects among residential homes.

Local councils receive large sums of money, whether from some international organisations or the Turkish government, or through collecting taxes from citizens and project owners, with the aim of securing the minimum requirements in making the areas administered by these councils liveable.

The primary purpose for the existence of local councils is to provide basic services to citizens, protect them from the military authorities of the factions controlling them and defend their rights against any violation.

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It is logical for these councils to express their inability to protect the rights and property of some citizens from some of the practices of the military authorities, but what is illogical and goes against the purpose of these councils’ existence is their agreement with the military authority to blackmail citizens and deprive them of their rights, while failing to carry out their most basic service duties.

Some local councils have turned into an additional tool used to blackmail citizens in the face of attacks on their rights by members of the military factions. Moreover, the local councils’ dependence on the Turkish border states has turned them into executive tools in the hands of those in charge of these states, regardless of the interests of the citizens.

These councils have imposed large financial fines on anyone trying to cross into Turkiye to escape the war in implementation of the latter’s demands. Moreover, they colluded with the military police in the region to collect these fees by subjecting citizens to imprisonment and torture at the hands of the military police, which began fabricating charges of smuggling against ordinary citizens and citizens who were forcibly deported from Turkiye under the pretext that they are smugglers or are trying to escape to Turkiye. This is done with the aim of extorting them financially by force of torture and without subjecting them to any trial or giving them any warning of the amounts being extorted from them.

They also imposed a tribute of $200 on every Syrian refugee in Turkiye who is forced to go to Syria for any reason.

Of course, this is in addition to its failure to intervene in the looting of citizens’ homes in those areas, while some factions in the region have imposed tributes on their agricultural crops. This is at a time when these areas lack most services, such as the failure to collect the garbage, which has filled the streets that are full of potholes, as well as the sewage networks, since most of them are no longer operational in many areas.

This article was first published in Arabic in Al-Araby on 18 February, 2024.

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