Al-Raqqah | Residents in three zones of influence struggle with shortage of heating materials and high prices
Harsh weather in every winter makes residents in the Al-Raqqah province shoulder extra burdens, as well as all areas across the entire Syrian geography.
Al-Raqqah province is divided into three zones of influence, and they are as follows:
- A part controlled by Turkish forces and factions affiliated to the “National Army” and working under the banner of “Peace Spring” operations room. This part, which contains Tel Abyad, Sluk and Hammam Al-Turkman, was captures by Turkish forces and their proxies in 2019.
- A part controlled regime forces and Iranian and Iraqi-backed militias, and it contains Debsi Faraj and Debsi Afnan in the south-western countryside of Al-Raqqah and Al-Sabkhah, Al-Shuraydah, Zor Shamar, Ghanim Al-Ali and Al-Maghallah in the south-eastern countryside of Al-Raqqah province.
- A part which has been controlled by Syria Democratic Forces since they liberated it from ISIS in 2017. This part contains Al-Raqqah city and its surrounding villages and the eastern countryside of the province.
Two years ago, the Autonomous Administration issued family cards granted to families living in SDF-controlled areas in Al-Raqqah, including those who live in refugee camps and resettlement centres. Via these cards, Al-Raqqah families could get identified amounts of kerosene, diesel and gas cylinders for subsidised prices, where the prices of these material on black markets are very high.
In regime-controlled areas, however, most of the residents have been displaced to SDF-held areas or left Syria, while the remaining residents are struggling with dire living conditions and inactive role by organisations operating in these areas, as well as suspension of support and high prices of fuel. Diesel in regime-controlled areas is sold for 5,000 SYP per litre. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime has allocated 100 litres of diesel for a state-subsidised price for every family in areas under its control in Al-Raqqah province per year. The unjust decision has been a major factor for the ongoing displacement of civilians to other zones of influence.
Speaking to SOHR, a 30-year-old man known by his initials as A. A. from Tel Abyad area says, “in areas controlled by the ‘National Army,’ there are no support or allowances being provided, as Ankara has prevented all relief organisations and projects from providing support in these areas without its instructions. Those organisations distribute only one relief basket to every family every three months. On the other hand, fuel prices in this zone of influence is very high compared to the other zones in Al-Raqqah, where the price of a barrel of unrefined diesel reaches one million SYP. Moreover, Turkish-backed factions prevent all attempts by the residents to bring fuels from SDF-controlled areas where they are sold for lower prices.
In general, the residents of Al-Raqqah province face considerable challenges during winter, while the lack of fuel and suspension of heating allowances and subsidies deepen the residents’ sufferings.