Iraq News

Tahrir al-Sham blocks street vendors in Idlib

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

Tahrir al-Sham elements remove a stall used by a street vendor in Idlib during a recent crackdown. [Photo courtesy of Musab Assaf]

Tahrir al-Sham elements remove a stall used by a street vendor in Idlib during a recent crackdown. [Photo courtesy of Musab Assaf]

More than 150 families in the city of Idlib have been without income since Tahrir al-Sham removed the stalls they had put up on certain streets and prevented street vendors from operating, local activists told Diyaruna.

The local administration had given those vendors permits on condition that they comply with certain terms, they said.

But the extremist alliance, which is dominated by the former al-Nusra Front (ANF), suspended the work of the administration some time ago.

Activists told Diyaruna the main reason behind the decision was that the vendors refused to pay any taxes to Tahrir al-Sham.

Tahrir al-Sham patrols on Monday (January 1st) began to confiscate all the goods sold by street vendors and stall owners in Idlib, said local media activist Musab Assaf, who uses an alias to protect his life.

"The process ended Tuesday with the confiscation of all temporary stalls and the detention of a number of vendors who tried to stand up to the alliance's elements," he told Diyaruna.

"The vendors are poor, underprivileged people who have no other sources of income," he said.

Some have been doing this work for many years, he added, while others are internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have lost all their property.

The alliance took this measure after the vendors refused to pay the taxes it imposed on them, he said, noting that it has been unrelenting in its efforts to obtain money in any way possible because its own resources have shrunk.

An attempt to impose control

Mohammed Khalid, an IDP from the countryside of Deir Ezzor who has been working as a street vendor, told Diyaruna the goods he was selling were confiscated on Tuesday.

According to Khalid, the alliance claimed it was conducting the crackdown to prevent disorganised street vending activity and to clear the streets of stalls.

But the real reason, according to several vendors, is the refusal of the majority of them to obey its orders to pay taxes like other shops.

This is not possible, Khalid said, as street vendors bring in a very modest revenue and are not able to pay the taxes the alliance has imposed.

"The alliance objected to the vendors moving to other places in the market and warned them, after obtaining all their personal information, to stop their work completely or risk punishment and a monetary fine," Khalid said.

Through its newly formed "National Salvation Government", which is trying to impose its control over the area, the alliance has been cancelling all administrative decisions made by the former local administration, he said.

This includes the licensing of vendors under certain conditions, which include committing to operate in specified places, maintaining cleanliness and not manipulating prices, he explained.

As a result of the alliance's decision, Khalid said, "the families of at least 150 street vendors are now without income, as their breadwinner is without work".

Do you like this article?

0 Comment(s)
Comment Policy * Denotes Required Field 1500 / 1500