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South of Damascus Sees New Rise in Robberies

South of Damascus Sees New Rise in Robberies

Tuesday, 22 March, 2022 - 09:15
A transport vehicle was destroyed after an Israeli bombardment on Damascus countryside (AP)

South of the Syrian capital, Damascus, gangs of women and children are looting abandoned houses and properties. Pro-government forces, security agencies and militias in the area have turned a blind eye to the robberies, Syrian opposition members reported.

In the summer of 2018, the Syrian regime regained control over areas south of Damascus which included the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad district and Al-Tadamon neighborhood.

Yarmouk camp, which is seen as the “capital of the Palestinian diaspora,” is located more than seven kilometers south of Damascus, with an area of about two square kilometers.

East of the camp lies Al-Tadamon neighborhood. Both Yarmouk and Al-Tadamon are administratively belong to the Damascus Governorate. However, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad district belongs to the Damascus Countryside Governorate.

The district used to be inhabited by most refugees from the Golan Heights.

Homes, shops, and infrastructure in Yarmouk, Al-Tadamon and Al-Hajar Al-Aswad were destroyed by the regime’s military campaign south of Damascus. Nevertheless, some buildings remained either partially destroyed or intact.

With the Damascus government delaying rehabilitation efforts in these areas, homes, shops, and institutions were subjected to looting by soldiers, security agents, and their allies.

Stolen assets included household furniture, doors and windows, electrical wires, sanitary ware, marble, tiles, ceramics. Steel structures were robbed from destroyed premises and in some instances roofs of intact buildings were demolished to grant thieves access to their iron bars.

According to activists, the thefts have left homes, shops, and institutions without any sound structure. New cladding is also required to rehabilitate those edifices.

For two months now, Asharq Al-Awsat has monitored groups of 10-15 minors aged between 10-13 heading for Yarmouk with large plastic bags.

When examining some of the bags that are loosely sealed, it turns out that what is inside are small pieces of wooden furniture, small iron and aluminum pieces, in addition to plastic, iron and glass kitchen utensils.

Sources point out that those groups are bribing security agents at checkpoints to enter and exit the area as they please and carrying whatever they find and want.

It is noteworthy that not all the looted areas are uninhabited, in some cases, the gangs are combing boulevards where some residents have returned.

This has resulted in quarrels and violent fistfights erupting.

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