Syria: HTS says it will issue own photo ID cards in further break from Syria regime
The civilian arm of a powerful Islamist militia controlling much of northwest Syria has announced it will issue its own personal identification cards, in a new break from regime control.
The Syrian Salvation Government, the civilian arm of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), said this week it was accepting applications for ID cards from residents aged-14 and over.
SSG Interior Minister Mohamed Abdelrahman told media last week that the new identity cards could allow citizens to obtain marriage contracts, make sales and purchase contracts, conduct real estate transactions, and appear before the judiciary in HTS-controlled territory, which includes much of Idlib province.
The photo IDs were designed in accordance with international standards, Abdelrahman claimed.
A source close to the SSG told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that the move was necessary because many people in the territory either no longer possess or were never issued ID cards by the state.
Many of the millions of Syrians displaced by the decade-long war in the country are believed to have lost their ID cards, while others, including the children of defectors from the Syrian regime military, were never issued identification by Damascus, the source said.
About four million people live in territories controlled by HTS, many of them displaced from elsewhere in Syria by the war that began in 2011 after Bashar al-Assad's regime crushed peaceful protest.
Fighting has seen parts of Syria snatched up by different armed groups, including the HTS.
The group, which was previously affiliated with Al-Qaeda, formed the SSG in 2017 to administer the territory it holds.
In 2016, HTS severed its links with Al-Qaeda and has recently tried to present a more "moderate" face - but it is still designated as a terrorist group by the US, the UK, and Turkey.
Its attempts to present a more moderate image, including meeting Christian leaders, has been rejected as PR by most pro-democracy Syrian activists.
The SSG rivals the Syrian opposition's "Syrian Interim Government", which was formed by the more moderate Syrian National Coalition (SNC) in 2013 but has little authority on the ground.