A prominent businessman in Qamishli recently tried to use forged documents to take possession of a real estate property in the Hassakeh governorate that is owned by an emigrant Assyrian Christian family. This attempted seizure is not the first of its kind, as similar attempts appear to target absentees’ properties.
The Ephram family, who are Assyrians, stated on July 7 saying that Jamil Hassari (nicknamed Abu Dallo) had not purchased any real estate from them. Rather, he merely rented commercial shops in the family’s building. The family said that they own those stores and have the proper title deeds.
Abu Dallo is a widely known businessman in Qamishli. He is a Kurdish merchant with good ties to officials from both the Syrian regime and the AANES. Sources told The Syria Report that he is also active in trade across the Simalka border crossing between Iraqi Kurdistan and northeastern Syria.
One woman from the family told The Syria Report that the Ephrams own a four-storey building on the main street in Qamishli. The family leased commercial shops on the ground floor, through permanent “furoogh” contracts.
Furoogh contracts have no fixed duration and are subject to compulsory lease extensions. Such contracts are still in force if they were signed before Tenancy Law No. 10 of 2006. Under the furoogh system, the tenant is entitled to hand over the shop, with all its materials and contents, to another tenant in exchange for what is known as a furoogh payment, which is equivalent to the shop’s real market value.
According to the Ephram family, Abu Dallo recently made the furoogh payment for all the merchants who were renting shops in the building. That means that he is indeed a tenant under the furoogh system.
Another Ephram family member told The Syria Report that Abu Dallo offered several months ago to buy the full property, but then reneged. The family believes that he withdrew the offer because he knows that the last male family member had plans to emigrate to Sweden, where his siblings already live.
Indeed, after he left for Sweden, Abu Dallo took advantage of his absence and attempted to seize the entire property using forged documents. He did this through a series of fake real estate contracts, each one in the name of one of his collaborators. In the last such contract, Abu Dallo “bought” the property. His next step would have been to file a claim with the Qamishli Court, part of the Syrian judicial authority, to formally confirm the sales contract. However, this never happened, as the family was alerted about his actions.
This is not the first instance of Abu Dallo using forgery to take possession of other people’s real estate. Sources told The Syria Report that the businessman has targeted other emigrants’ properties in Qamishli, especially properties belonging to Christians. Previously, the Ishaq family issued a statement condemning Abu Dallo’s seizure of their properties.
A group of judges, lawyers and cadastral employees reportedly collaborates with Abu Dallo to register his forged sales contracts in the Land Registry. Often he takes advantage of the dispersal of judicial authority in the Hassakeh governorate between courts under the authority of Damascus and those under the authority of the Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria (AANES).
The Ephram family said it took steps to prevent Abu Dallo from transferring ownership of their property to his name. First, they filed a lawsuit against him in the Qamishli court of the Syrian judicial authority. Second, they sent a letter to the Syrian embassy in Sweden. Also, the family said they believe the AANES shoulders moral responsibility for solving the issue, as Abu Dallo is considered to have close ties with the governing body.