AZAZ, Syria 

With the steep fall in the value of the Syrian pound against the US dollar, civilians in the Operation Euphrates Shield region in northern Syria have turned to the Turkish lira to make purchases.

The lira is being used in Aleppo’s Azaz district, and al-Bab, Jarabulus and Cobanbey regions — which were cleared of terrorists as part of Operation Euphrates Shield.

Turkish liras are the currency of choice in many areas, such as bakeries, gas stations, pharmacies, and markets in the region.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Syrian interim Government’s Economy Minister Abdul Hakim Al Masri said the Turkish lira is supporting the people living in the region.

“As it is known, Syria is far behind in terms of development according to all global financial indicators. Additionally, the Caesar Act, protests in Lebanon, and the family conflict between the Assad regime and Rami Mahluf caused the entire Syrian pound to lose its value,” he added.

Al-Masri noted that the economic crisis which the Assad regime is facing is affecting the opposition-held regions. He said: “We decided to use the currency of our neighboring country, Turkish lira with aims to come up with solutions. The use of Turkish lira against dollar will ease the life for people of the region.”

He said the people of the region are obtaining liras via Turkish postal service PTT branches.

“People were always supporting this move, and this made our job easier,” he added.

Abdullah Shukayr, a local, told Anadolu Agency that the Syrian people now prefer to use the lira for their purchases.

“The Syrian pound is floating and unstable against the dollar. It also has no more value. Turkish lira is more stable against the dollar,” he added.

Muhammed Hashem, who owns a currency exchange office, also said the Syrian pound losing its value against the US dollar caused people to use Turkish liras in their daily transactions and shopping.

He said the people in the region are able to purchase bread with Turkish liras at a cheaper price.

At the beginning of this year, $1 was purchased for 1,000 Syrian pounds, but recently it soared to as high as 4,000 Syrian pounds.

Tough new US sanctions under the bill, officially known as the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act of 2019, are also expected to hurt the Syrian economy and its currency.

The bill authorizes additional sanctions and financial restrictions on institutions and individuals that have commercial ties with the Syrian regime.

Syria has been ravaged by 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.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan in Ankara

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