Mar 01 2019

Turkey-backed rebels open land registry office in Syria's Azaz

The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) has established a land registry office in the Syrian rebel-held town of Azaz to manage problems related to real estate, Russian news agency Sputnik reported on Friday.

During Syria's eight years of armed conflict, millions of people have fled their homes, with about five million seeking refuge abroad.

In the chaos of war, many government buildings have been destroyed together with property records, while refugees and other displaced people have lost identity cards or land deeds.

Premises belonging to many displaced people were sold by jihadist organisations using fake documents, and the new land registry office, which is the first of such efforts in FSA-controlled territory, will reveal the real owners of premises and people who purchased them unfairly, Sputnik reported. 

New offices are slated to be opened in northern Syria's al-Bab, Jarablus, Marea and al-Rai.

"The opening of the land registry will contribute to the increase of various facilities in the city and the surrounding provinces, and it will boost the region by increasing the confidence of local investors," Abdullah Geko, the director of National Coalition for the Syrian opposition and the Revolutionary Forces, told Sputnik.

Salaries of officials working at the new land registry office will be paid by Turkey, according to the news site.

Turkey and its proxy forces including Syrian Arab and Turkmen fighters from the FSA took control of Azaz following Operation Euphrates Shield launched on Aug. 24, 2016.

In the aftermath of the military operation, the Turkish authorities have aimed to restore civil society in the areas under their control and to bind the region more closely to Turkey. As part of these efforts, Turkish authorities fund education and health services, support the region's economy and pay salaries of Syrian officials working at local councils governing the cities.