المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

HTS and Ankara-backed factions’ violations | People face great difficulties in travelling from Idlib to Aleppo countryside

People’s suffering continues regarding their movement to and from areas held by HTS which controls Idlib and areas of its countryside and parts of Aleppo countryside, and areas held by Turkish forces and proxy factions in the northern and eastern Aleppo countryside.

The dominant forces continue to restrict the movement and travel of civilians, forcing them towait for hours without clear reasons, as this simply depends on the mood and whims of the checkpoints’ members between the areas held by the two sides: Deir Balout checkpoint for civilians north of Idlib, and the Gazawiya commercial checkpoint in north-western Aleppo countryside.

According to SOHR sources, residents are suffering from the division of the crossing into commercial and civilian by the factions, where Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Turkish-backed factions at the Deir Balout crossing in northern Idlib prevent the crossing of any goods, no matter how small, allowing goods to cross only via Al-Gazawiya crossing in north-western Aleppo countryside.

A civilian, clothes salesman, known by his initials as (M.M.) told the Syrian Observatory: “I was transporting a small box of clothes from Afrin countryside within the areas held by Turkish-backed factions, to Idlib in the HTS-held areas. The HTS’ Deir Balout checkpoint in northern Idlib stopped me, and searched the trunk of the car and when they saw the clothes; they asked me, in a rude tone, to return to Al-Gazawiya crossing.”

 “When I asked the checkpoint members to cross, one of the members stopped me for two hours without saying a word, and then he told me to go back to Afrin and go tomorrow via Al-Gazawiya crossing, you will not cross today,” the salesman added.

It is worth nothing that the distance between Al-Gazawiya and Deir Balout is 18 km approximately.

A displaced person, known by his initials as (A. A.), from southern Idlib countryside to Deir Balout and works in construction in the town of Atma, told the Syrian Observatory: “When I got back from Deir Balout crossing on my motorcycle, a member stopped me at HTS checkpoint, and told me ‘we closed the crossing and you can’t cross’. Then I tried to get the member to sympathize with me, saying that my wife was staying alone in the camp and could not be left alone, so he kicked my motorcycle and asked me to go back to Atma or he would arrest me, and even though I wasn’t allowed to enter, some cars and bicycles were entering via the crossing.”

Similarly, when people cross from Idlib to Aleppo countryside, they face great difficulties at the entrance to Afrin. People stand in large queues waiting to be searched, which takes a lot of time under the pretext of preventing explosions and may last more than an hour or two.

Residents from Idlib or Afrin’s Kurdish population are being scrutinized, in addition to road used only by vehicles with military missions without being searched.

Local activists from the area have confirmed that most of the car-bombs enter with military missions from checkpoints without being checked, while civilian movement is tightly controlled.

Meanwhile, the “National Army” military checkpoints in Aleppo countryside are holding any vehicle with a license plate issued by the Transport Directorate of the “Salvation Government” loyal to HTS for security reasons and forcing the owner of the car to pay a new registration fee of up to 250 TL, as they do not recognize the Salvation Government.

A citizen, known by his initials as (Q.M.), has shared his story with SOHR. Q.M. was travelling from the areas of Aleppo countryside controlled by “Tahrir al-Sham” to the city of Azaz, north of Aleppo and was stopped and detained at “Al-Shatt” checkpoint at the entrance to Azaz city Q.M. has said that the reason for that was “toforce me to change the registration of the car from the Aleppo directorate of the Salvation Government to the local council in Azaz and pay the fees, but as I know one of the military commanders in the area whom I called and I managed to go out without registering the car and paying any fees,”

Another citizen, known by his initials as (H.S.), speaks to the Syrian Observatory confirming that he has experienced the same problem with his car, as he paid 250 Turkish liras to register the car and put a license plate with a number and a name issued by the Council of Azaz next to the license plate of the Salvation Government.

It is worth nothing that some local councils in northern Aleppo issued statements saying that they will detain all cars that do not carry the plates of what they call “Councils of the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch” as of the next year.

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