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Iraqi families moving into
Damascus suburb: reports

“Three hundred Iraqi families have already been transferred in coordination with Syrian regime officials in order to [create] a demographic shift,” a source told Asharq Alawsat.

Imam al-Hussein Brigade leader Sheikh Amjad Bahadli leads prayers in Darayya. (Facebook/Imam al-Hussein Brigade)

BEIRUT – Iraqi families are allegedly being moved into the Damascus suburb of Darayya, which was taken over by the regime in late August, as part of a planned “demographic change,” according to media reports.

 

Asharq Alawsat on Monday cited a “well-informed source” as saying that Iraqi families, “particularly from the Shiite-[populated] southern provinces” of the country are being moved to Syria to repopulate a number of areas in the war-torn country.

 

The source told the Saudi daily that the Iraqis were settling in Darayya and Moadamiyat al-Sham, both formerly rebel-held suburbs of the capital which were evacuated in the past two weeks following deals with regime forces encircling the towns.

 

“Three hundred Iraqi families have already been transferred in coordination with Syrian regime officials in order to [create] a demographic shift,” he added.

 

Asharq Alawsat also reported that Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iraqi Shiite paramilitary force close to Tehran, was overseeing the resettlement of the Iraqi families, who were being granted $2000 as well as a house.  

 

Regime troops moved into Darayya on August 27, a day after hundreds of opposition fighters and their families were evacuated from the beleaguered town, which regime forces had besieged and bombed for years.

 

The same day the evacuation started, a pro-Assad news outlet reported that a number of Iraqi families had arrived in the Syrian capital, where they would be provided housing.

 

“The Syrian government [is working] to secure their access to safe areas in Damascus, while relevant humanitarian organizations are working now to secure their housing as well as medical checkups and a supply of food,” the Damascus Alaan Facebook page said.

 

A local media activist also spoke about the topic with ARA News, saying that “large numbers of Iraqi families” were transported to Damascus on August 26, where they were moved “close to Darayya.”

 

The source claimed that Shiite militiamen were also spotted in Darayya following the evacuation of the town’s residents.

 

In the days following the government’s takeover of Darayya, the Imam al-Hussein Brigade—an Iraqi outfit operating around the Syrian capital—posted a number of pictures on its official Facebook page of its members in the town.

 

A series of photos uploaded on August 31 show the militia’s commander, Sheikh Amjad Bahadli, leading prayers outside the destroyed shrine for Sayyeda Sakina, one of Imam Hussein’s daughters.

 

NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language material. 

Imam al-Hussein Brigade leader Sheikh Amjad Bahadli leads prayers in Darayya. (Facebook/Imam al-Hussein Brigade)

Three hundred Iraqi families have already been transferred in coordination with Syrian regime officials in order to [create] a demographic shift.