Compensation Begins for Expropriated Properties in Opposition-controlled Jabal Aqeil

UPDATED on June 16, 2021: The opposition-run local council of Al-Bab, in the north-eastern part of Aleppo governorate, has announced it is allocating land to compensate residents of the Jabal Aqeil district for their properties, which were converted into a military zone.

Jabal Aqeil is a relatively high area overlooking the city of Al-Bab. In 2017, one of the largest Turkish military bases in rural Aleppo governorate was established there, following the “Euphrates Shield” military operation led by Turkish and rebel forces. The operation saw the Islamic State (ISIS) expelled from the area. The battles severely damaged Jabal Aqeil, making it difficult for residents who were displaced by the fighting to return home. Establishment of the Turkish base spurred protests demanding that the Turkish army compensate property owners or provide alternative housing.

There are three types of property rights in Jabal Aqeil. In the first case, the land is under the custody of the Directorate of Endowments in Aleppo while the construction built on it is owned by a private party. In these situations, tenants own the home in which they live but pay a rental fee for the land to the Endowments Directorate. In the second case, both the land and building are under the custody of the directorate, while the right holder is an old tenant renting it under the system of compulsory extension. In the third case, both the land and building are owned by a private party. The Bab City Council did not differentiate between the three different types of property rights, leaving some ambiguity regarding the terms for providing alternative plots of land.

The Al-Bab City Council has identified the Endowments Directorate’s plots 128 to 450, from the city’s first real estate zone, as a site for the alternative land to be allocated for construction. In a decree issued on May 03, the city council said the area had been partitioned for plots and carried out studies to provide it with all necessary services.

The city council added that those plots of land would be distributed to property owners in exchange for relinquishing their properties in Jabal Aqeil. Ownership of the new properties would be registered after allocating the plots. According to the city council’s decree in May, beneficiaries also have the right to choose the area within the General Master Plan where they wish their alternative property to be located. Beneficiaries or their agents were given 10 days to visit the city council’s Municipal Services Directorate to choose the location of their alternative property.

A city council official told The Syria Report that the body has so far compensated 161 right holders, each of whom received a plot of land equal in area to their original Jabal Aqeil property. Most of the properties compensated for had belonged to a large number of heirs, the official added.

A 15-day deadline was also given to former tenants in Jabal Aqeil to choose the new properties they wish to rent. According to the May city council decree, former tenants have the right to make new lease contracts with the Endowments Directorate after settling their status, if they previously had debts. However, the issue of former tenants is more ambiguous than that of former property owners--it is not clear whether the previous tenants must build their new home at their own expense in order to rent it.

Zoning Plans for Alternative Properties

Source: The Syria Report