IDLIB, SYRIA 

As the value of Syria’s domestic currency plummets, people living in the country’s northwest – just across the Turkish border – have turned to the Turkish lira to maintain their purchasing power.

Turkish liras are the currency of choice in many areas, such as bakeries, gas stations, pharmacies, and markets in Idlib, a province covered by a Turkish-Russian cease-fire deal.

Mahmud Ali Pasha, a baker in Idlib, told Anadolu Agency that amid the Syrian pound’s steep fall against the dollar, they switched to Turkish liras for purchases.

“The people have shown great interest in converting their currency into Turkish liras, and went to exchange offices to convert their dollars and Syrian pounds into Turkish liras.” he said.

In Idlib, bakeries buy flour, fuel, and yeast using dollars, but bread is normally sold using the Syrian pound, he said.

“The rapid depreciation against the dollar and the fluctuations of the Syrian currency were hurting us badly,” he said.

“Since our sector is indispensable to the public, we needed a serious solution to this problem, which is switching to Turkish liras.”

Maan al-Sus, who owns an exchange office in Idlib, also said using the lira means using the currency of a country with a stable economy.

This will make fuel and food prices more stable, he added.

At the beginning of this year, it took 1,000 Syrian pounds to buy $1, but recently it soared as high as 4,000 Syrian pounds to the dollar.

Tough new US sanctions are also expected to hurt the Syrian economy and its currency.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.

Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone forged under an agreement between Turkey and Russia. The area has been the subject of multiple cease-fire understandings, which have frequently been violated by the Assad regime and its allies.

It is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-weary country.

*Written by Aysu Bicer

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