Assad regime forced 130,000 Syrians out of their homes in 2018

Published 17.12.2018 21:50
Updated 18.12.2018 08:00

Syria's Bashar Assad regime has forced approximately 130,000 Syrians to flee from their hometowns following fierce regime attacks and blockades this year.

Today marks International Migrants Day. To honor the date, Anadolu Agency (AA) collected data from local sources that suggest that 2018, for Syrians, would be remembered as a year of displacement and forced migration.

Although the opposition-held provinces of Damascus, Homs, Daraa and Quneitra were all designated "de-escalation zones" in line with earlier agreements signed in the Astana talks organized by Turkey, Russia and Iran, the regime has continued to attack and blockade the regions, forcing thousands of residents to leave their homes.

Syrians in these regions who remain opposed to the regime were relocated to refugee camps in the country's north, where they continue to face difficult living conditions.

According to data collected by the Syria Intervention Coordinators, a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) devoted to helping civilians, the regime and its allies forced as many as 128,926 people to leave their homes between March 14 and July 31 this year.

This year's forced evacuations first began between March 14 and May 10, when Syrians in Damascus' eastern Ghouta, eastern Qalamun, Qadem, Yelda, Babila, and Beit Sahm were relocated.

Almost 74,000 people in eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, and eastern Qalamun near the Lebanese border, a spot regarded as a symbol of anti-regime resistance, were forcibly relocated to opposition-held safe zones in Aleppo and Idlib.

With another 9,250 relocated from the opposition-held Yarmouk Camp's Yelde, Yelda, Babila and Beit Sham settlements, the total number of those forced to leave opposition-held areas of Damascus this year has now reached 83,214.

Once the forced evacuations in Damascus were complete, the Syrian regime and its allies then targeted Syria's central city of Homs.

Following a lengthy blockade, 35,648 residents were forced to leave the rural areas of northern Homs for opposition-held areas in Idlib and Aleppo from May 7-18.

The cities of Daraa and Quneitra, meanwhile, fell entirely under the regime's control in the wake of the evacuations.

Opposition groups and civilians who continued to oppose the regime in Daraa and Quneitra were also forced to relocate to northern Syria.

In line with an involuntary evacuation agreement, more than 10,000 people were forced to leave their homes between July 15-31.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the seven-year Syrian conflict has left some 6.6 million people internally displaced and another 5.6 million seeking refugee status abroad.

The Bashar Assad regime has also been using a little-known anti-terrorism law to seize property from dissidents and their families as it takes back control of areas that were held by opposition groups, according to statements from rights groups and people affected in the move.

In April, the regime implemented a housing law, known as Law 10, that says it has the right to nationalize the property or assets of anyone who fails to claim them within one year.

While Law 10 has not yet been put into effect, a separate anti-terrorism law has already been used to seize property, including from people who had no hand in the violence, according to human rights groups.

In mid-October, the Human Rights Watch NGO said satellite images showed regime forces demolishing property without giving prior notice or offering compensation.

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