Contractors are still extracting and recycling materials from houses belonging to displaced people in the regime-held southern part of Idlib.
Workers are dismantling iron rebar from roofs in the eastern neighbourhood of the city of Kafr Nubl, according to aerial photographs taken by an opposition-owned drone. Kafr Nubl is located along the current line of contact between regime and rebel forces. Civilians are prohibited from entering the area, now run as a closed military zone.
Activists also shared videos filmed outside the city of Maaret Al-Numan, which appeared to show homes in which only the walls remained after the iron rebar had been removed from the roofs. The looting also included removal of marble countertops, electrical wiring, and exterior cladding. Maaret Al-Numan is under the control of the Russian-backed 25th Special Task Force Division, which is led by Colonel Suheil Al-Nimr.
Last September, The Syria Report reported on the iron rebar extractions taking place in the Al-Halak neighbourhood of Saraqib in the Idlib governorate. It appears that such looting has become an oft-repeated model after being observed in more than 20 towns and villages across previously opposition-held southern Idlib governorate. Since regime forces captured the area in early 2020, it has remained a closed military zone, with displaced residents prohibited from returning home. Many houses there now have no roofs, plumbing or electrical wiring, sources told The Syria Report.
According to a correspondent for The Syria Report in the area, the contractors include permanent workers who earn a share of the profits, or labourers earning daily wages. Workers use both manual and electrical demolition equipment to extract iron for later use without damaging it. Most workers on these sites are led by a contractor who is directly affiliated with regime forces and shares a portion of the profits with them. Different regime military divisions share between them areas of influence in southern Idlib in the form of “work sectors.” Contractors affiliated with each division are active in that division’s work sector.
Work crews sell one kilogram of extracted iron rebar for about SYP 2,000. The iron is collected at collection points on the outskirts of cities and towns where the work crews are active, then transported to factories for processing and polishing through special machines. This treated iron sells for about SYP 2,750 per kilogram at markets in regime-held areas that specialize in recycled building materials.