HTS repression | Salvation Government impose new taxes on farmers in Sahl al-Ghab
SOHR activists have confirmed that the “Salvation Government”, the executive arm of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham in areas under its control, has imposed new taxes on the farmers in Sahl al-Ghab area in the western countryside of Hama in return for allow them to use the water of Qastun Dam to irrigate their fields.
It is worth noting that the cultivated area in that region has shrunk to 25,000 dunams, after regime forces captured nearly 80 percent of Sahl al-Ghab between 2019 and 2020, and it is scattered in some villages in the region’s northern part.
Tens of farmers rely on the water of Qastun Dam for irrigating their farms which are planted with various vegetables, including watermelon, eggplant, tomato, pepper and cucumber. However, HTS recently imposed its influence on the dam and started to collect levies and taxes from the farmers in return for allowing them to use the water stored behind the dam.
The “Salvation Government” has imposed taxes on the farmers who have already been allowed to use the water of Qastun dam, but many of these farmers refused to pay the taxes as they had no enough money, while others complained that the water of the dam did not reach their farms due to the drought.
In a testimony to SOHR, a farmer known by his initials as A. M. and has a farm of nearly 15 dunams planted with various vegetables in Sahl al-Ghab area said, “the new tax is not logical, as the water stored behind the dam dried up since early July. Accordingly, many of the farmers managed to irrigate their farms for only one time. The farmer in that region live on the harvest of their farms, so they preferred to risk their lives and stay near their land which is located near frontlines between regime forces and opposition factions. However, the Salvation Government wants to share them in their income by imposing taxes, although it provides no facilitations or services to the farmers.”
“The farmers bear many burdens until the harvest season, including the expense of ploughing the land and the high prices of insecticide and fertilizers, which make the net profit that the farmers get relatively low. The farmers’ sufferings escalated this year after the drought of the dam, as many farmers have been forced to use diesel-operating water pumps to get water. The further burdens on the farmers will spur many of them to abandon their farms and search for another work,” added A. M.
It is worth noting that the “Salvation Government” clump down on the farmers in areas under the control of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham through issuance unachievable decrees and collecting levies and taxes, leaving them suffering losses.