Southern Aleppo Countryside: Public Auction to Invest in Displaced People’s Lands
The head of the Security and Military Committee in Aleppo, Major-General Salim Khalil Harba, formed a committeeto hold a public auction to lease agricultural lands belonging to people who were forcibly displaced from 11 villages in rural southern Aleppo.
On November 22, the committee held a public auction at the headquarters of the Agriculture and Agrarian Reform Directorate in Aleppo. Attendees could make offers to develop these lands on the basis that they commit to planting wheat for one season. A similar auction happened in the countryside of Hama and Idlib a few weeks ago.
Offered at the auction were 350 hectares of agricultural lands south of Aleppo. Regime forces and allied Iranian militias captured the area in early 2020 during military operations along the M4 Aleppo-Damascus highway. These villages were heavily damaged by bombing and battles due to their location along the frontlines between rebel and regime forces between 2015 and 2020. Virtually all residents of the area were displaced before regime forces took control and headed towards displacement camps near the Turkish border in the north-western Idlib governorate.
Only a small number of regime loyalists now live in the 11 villages after returning from regime-held areas in the countryside of Al-Hader in southern Aleppo governorate. The Security and Military Committee employed a number of “guides” from the area to work with Air Force Intelligence and determine which lands are owned by displaced, pro-opposition former residents.
The lands offered in the auction are currently under the control of the Security and Military Committee, according to a former local council president who spoke with The Syria Report. At the same time, large areas of rural southern Aleppo fell directly under the control of Iranian militias, which also seized the homes and shops of forcibly displaced residents.
The Iranian militias typically use the proceeds from agricultural lands and real estate seized in rural southern Aleppo to finance their groups, which are deployed in large numbers near the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-run Jabal Azzan base. The militias have carried out some service projects, such as rehabilitating schools and water networks, to win over the area’s remaining residents. Meanwhile, revenues collected by the Security and Military Committee are used to support the families of regime soldiers who died in action.
A view of the town of Zeitan
Source: Pro-opposition website Baladi-News