The Palestinian Liwa Al-Quds militia, a pro-regime group in Aleppo, is attempting to take control of the city’s Neirab Palestinian refugee camp, where the group was launched nine years ago.
The militia is working to buy residential and commercial real estate in the camp, as well as surrounding land suitable for construction, taking advantage of the difficult living conditions faced by most residents to buy these properties at prices below market value. Managing the expansion project is the Liwa Al-Quds deputy commander Adnan Al-Sayyed, who tasked the group’s young volunteer activists with conducting a census of the camp’s residents and tallying both residential and commercial properties—especially those belonging to former camp residents who have fled and no longer live in Neirab.
The purchases are made through intermediary real estate dealers affiliated with Liwa Al-Quds who sell at close to half the market value, and sometimes even lower in cases of property owners who are no longer present in the camp. In cases of displaced people understood to be pro-opposition, the militia seizes their properties without offering any compensation at all. A correspondent for The Syria Report in Aleppo was able to confirm that in November 2020 Liwa Al-Quds had seized two homes and two shops in the southern part of the camp belonging to a displaced man named Youssef Al-Dahoudi, after he was accused of supporting the uprising.
Al-Sayyed threatened expatriates in the Gulf originally from Neirab who sympathised with Al-Dahoudi, saying that they would be barred from returning to the camp. The militia later seized homes and shops belonging to several Palestinian expatriates, forcing their current occupants, who were renting the properties, to leave.
Liwa Al-Quds also recently took control of a three-storey building in Neirab owned by a displaced Palestinian man. The militia’s political officer also seized a tailoring workshop on the outskirts of the camp owned by another displaced Palestinian.
Liwa Al-Quds was founded in October 2011 as a pro-regime militia composed mainly of Palestinians from the refugee camps in Aleppo. In its early stages, it received Iranian support through the Quds Force, before it came under Russian sponsorship in 2019. The group fought alongside the regime against rebels in east Aleppo, and is now considered among the most important pro-regime militias in the city, with 4,000 fighters in its ranks, as well as an additional presence in Deir-ez-Zor, Homs, Daraa, Lattakia and Damascus.
Since the beginning of 2020, the media arm of Liwa Al-Quds has shown greater interest in Palestinian refugee affairs in Neirab. The group has displayed interest in attending Palestinian festivities and events, and is keen to send its representatives to public gatherings. Liwa Al-Quds has even held its own cultural events and festivities in the camp, funding them through the Liwa Al-Quds Cultural Forum and Liwa Al-Quds Youth. The militia’s leader, Mohammad Saeed, has appeared repeatedly in pro-regime media to talk about the health, food, educational and cultural services that Liwa Al-Quds has provided to Neirab camp since early 2020.
Source: 2018 UNRWA Photo by Ahmad Abou Zaid