Blazes in Sahl al-Ghab | Fires caused by regime bombardment devour nearly 250 dunams of farmlands planted with wheat
Every year, with the beginning of the season of wheat harvesting in Sahl al-Ghab in the western countryside of Hama, regime forces and their proxy militias start targeting harvesters and agriculture machines with artillery, which results in outbreak of fires on many occasions, with the aim to repress and “punish” the farmers in these areas.
In this context, local sources have told SOHR that the rocket and artillery fire which hit Sahl al-Ghab area during this season of harvesting wheat has burned down nearly 250 dunams of farmlands in the villages of al-Qarqour, al-Mashyak, al-Ziyyarah, al-Ankawi, al-Mansourah, al-Doqmaq and others. It is worth noting that regime forces and loyalists have deliberately targeted farmlands, depriving their owners form the crops’ profit. On the other hand, the residents and fire brigades are unable to reach the targeted areas and extinguish the blazes.
According to SOHR sources, the bombardment during the earlier days of this season was concentrated on the following areas:
- The outskirts of al-Sarmaniyyah village, which burned down 25 dunams of agriculture land.
- The outskirts of al-Qarqour and al-Mashiyak villages, which burned down over 40 dunams of agriculture land.
- The outskirts of al-Mansourah and al-Doqmaq, which burned down over 185 dunams of agriculture land.
Moreover, three harvesters were destroyed, but no casualties have been reported.
In a testimony to SOHR, an farmer from Sahl al-Ghab area known by his initials as M.A. talked about this grave violation. The man said “I have nearly 20 dunams of farmlands on the outskirts of al-Mansourah village, and regime bombardment has burned down my land entirely, so I have sustained losses of an estimated 2,000 USD, the cost of cultivating the land, as well as the expected profit of 3,000 USD. Farming is the only source of income for me and my family of six, after we have displaced to a camp in Harem area in the northern countryside of Idlib. I have exerted great efforts to cultivate my land, as I had to go to Sahl al-Ghab frequently to take care of it. I have paid no levies to regime forces this season. Many farmers have sustained great losses this season due to the ongoing bombardment on their agriculture land with the aim to deprive the farmers from the profit of their harvest.”
An official of a civil council in Sahl al-Ghab known as J.A. shared his point of view with the Syrian Observatory saying “the area of farmlands planted with wheat in Sahl al-Ghab area is estimated at nearly 17,000 dunams out of a total area of 25,000 dunams of farmlands remaining after capturing over 75% of Sahl al-Ghab by regime forces and loyalists. The farmers sustained great losses of an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 USD, after losing more than 250 dunams of their farmlands so far. These losses are only the cost of cultivation, let alone the expected profits. Some farmers were lucky and avoided such losses as they had sold their harvest to owners of cattle before wheat grew up, while others could harvest their crops before the start of bombardment. In the past few years, before the military escalation and regime forces’ advancement in early 2019, the harvest seasons were better, as the farmers could pay bribes to regime officers, via dignitaries and military commanders on the frontlines, in return for allowing the farmers to harvest their crops.”
The official also warned against the danger of ongoing bombardment on agriculture land and burning down the crops in Sahl al-Ghab, which will plague tens of farmers with dire living conditions.