The Syrian Salvation Government’s Ministry of Local Administration and Services issued Decision No. 506 on September 15, which ordered the merger of the Aleppo Engineers’ Syndicate branch with its counterpart in Idlib. This unified entity will be named the Syrian Engineers’ Syndicate, headquartered in the Engineers’ Syndicate building on Al-Qusour Street in Idlib city. The Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) is affiliated with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Islamist group, formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front, which controls vast areas in Idlib and some parts of Aleppo’s countryside.
The Free Engineers’ Syndicate was established in 2014 in opposition-controlled areas, with branches in both Idlib and Aleppo. In 2020, the SSG mandated the restructuring of the Idlib branch, renaming it the Syrian Engineers’ Syndicate in Idlib. The Aleppo branch of the Free Engineers’ Syndicate continues to operate in areas controlled by the opposition-run Syrian Interim Government (SIG) in northern Aleppo without any change. Notably, theAleppo Engineers’ Syndicate branch in Aleppo is an assembly of engineers from areas controlled by the SSG in Aleppo’s countryside, who had separated from their original branch about a year ago to form their own grouping, colloquially referred to as “Al-Dana branch” due to its location in Al-Dana city north of Idlib. This branch is unrelated to the Free Engineers’ Syndicate branch in Aleppo.
Following the earthquake on February 6, 2023, the SSG’s Ministry of Local Administration and Services began downsizing the role of the Engineers’ Syndicate. They blamed the syndicate for the catastrophic results of the earthquake in areas under their control. This accusation seems unfounded since it is not within the syndicate’s jurisdiction, as a professional body, to prevent unlicensed construction or the emergence of informal settlements, which were most affected by the quake.
The ministry had earlier issued Decision No. 307 on May 22, establishing the Directorate of Engineering Affairs and assigning it multiple tasks previously undertaken by the syndicate. These include auditing engineering plans related to administrative transactions, overseeing engineering projects and studies, licensing engineers, classifying engineering offices and companies, and endorsing the engineering teams overseeing all engineering studies in Idlib.
The ministry formed a joint committee with the Engineers’ Syndicate to draft the body’s new bylaws, clarifying its responsibilities, structure, and relationship with the Directorate of Engineering Affairs. These bylaws have not been finalised yet. Despite the absence of these bylaws, the newly restructured syndicate’s roles seem limited to registering engineers and overseeing the operations of engineering firms, according to Said Al-Ashqar, advisor to the Minister of Local Administration and Services.
According to the ministry’s recent Decision No. 506, Engineer Malik Haj Ali was appointed as the head of the syndicate, and six engineers were assigned as members of the new syndicate council. Engineer Hassan Othman was charged to chair the syndicate’s internal audit committee, consisting of three members.
Multiple sources from the Idlib branch of the Engineers’ Syndicate told The Syria Report that the branch effectively ceased being an independent professional entity after Decision No. 307. Its remaining capabilities are now limited, with some sources indicating that the SSG has relegated the syndicate’s engineers to mere processors of engineering transactions at the Directorate of Engineering Affairs in the ministry.
The head of the Free Engineers’ Syndicate branch in Aleppo, Engineer Khaled Al-Othman, told The Syria Report that syndicates are civil entities and should remain outside the formal governmental sphere. He said he was surprised by the dissolution of an elected and legitimate professional body and its replacement by an official governmental entity. Rather, syndicates serve as protective umbrellas for professionals and are supposed to be independent technical and supervisory bodies.