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Syrian refugees given one year warning of home confiscation

Syria has seen a third of its properties destroyed [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 November, 2018

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A controversial Syrian property law has been altered but passed into law.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad approved changes to a controversial law that would allow the regime to seize the homes and businesses of citizens who fled the country's seven-year war.

Syrians now have one year rather than a month to prove their ownership of property in areas due to be redeveloped, in order to receive shares in the projects, SANA state news agency reported.

If the homeowners could not prove ownership the property would be transferred to the local government.

Last month, UN humanitarian aid official Jan Egeland claimed that the Syrian regime had withdrawn the law, saying he was told of the decision by Russia, a key ally of Assad.

The Syrian government passed Law 10 in April to create "redevelopment zones" to rebuild property damaged in seven years of civil war.

Human Rights Watch said the regime passed laws in order to seize private property, displace residents and discourage refugees from returning to their homes.

The new draft says property owners will have to put forward an application giving their residency address along with the documents proving ownership or a list of properties.

Hussein Makhlouf, minister of local administration, said the amendments give citizens enough time to put forward documents regarding their ownership of property.

Syria's war has destroyed around a third of the country's housing, according to Human Rights Watch, while the World Bank said the war has caused more than $300 billion in material damage.

Most of the damage has been wrought on opposition areas, following fierce aerial bombardments from regime war planes and artillery.

The latest violence saw a car bomb in the Turkish-controlled, northern Syrian city of Jarabalus kill one person and wound 24 on Monday.

It has been under Turkish control since 2016, when Syrian rebels backed by Turkey drove out Islamic State group militants.

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