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Syria’s al-Bab opens first Turkish-backed DMV

Turkey has backed the establishment of a department of motor vehicles in al-Bab in the Euphrates Shield area, where all vehicles will be registered and inspected to ensure road safety.

ALEPPO, Syria — In cooperation with local police and general security agencies, the local council of al-Bab in the Euphrates Shield area in the northeastern Aleppo countryside opened Aug. 19 a department of motor vehicles to register motor vehicles and issue license plates. An affiliated motor vehicle inspection department was also established to ensure all vehicles in al-Bab are registered and conform to road and safety regulations, even vehicles previously registered with the regime.

Lt. Abdul Qader Haj Omar, head of the department of motor vehicles, told Al-Monitor, “This experience is the first of its kind in the Euphrates Shield area. It aims to limit the chaotic spread of unregistered public and private vehicles with no license plates. This department will equally help organize traffic in the city as license plates will make it easier to catch those who violate the traffic law and protect citizens’ private cars and motorcycles. Car theft will decrease as it would be easier for the police to find registered vehicles and pursue thieves.”

He added, “We started with registering and licencing police motor vehicles. We will then move to the local council’s vehicles. We will start registering and licensing civilian vehicles by Sept. 15. The vehicles’ owners will pay a registration fee of 200 Turkish liras [$31] for a two-year registration at the local council's financial office.”

The license plate is renewable every two years once the vehicle passes inspection again.

Haj Omar noted, “The licence plates will be color-coded. Police vehicles will have blue plates, the local council’s will be green and civilian vehicles will have white plates.”

These plates are in Arabic and Turkish, as they are Turkish-made and sent over to the vehicle registration department where they are printed by a machine also provided by Turkey.

He added, “We have a Turkish official overseeing the process at the department of motor vehicles. We are trying to learn from his experience in this field in Turkey as much as possible. We hope that such departments would open in all opposition-held cities and villages in the Euphrates Shield area.”

Al-Bab’s department of motor vehicles is supported by Turkey, which covers all the employees’ salaries and equipped the building used by the department and provided supervisors to train the Syrian employees.

The opposition-held Euphrates Shield area hasn’t had a traffic administration for the registration of vehicles since the beginning of 2012, after Aleppo’s northern and northeastern countrysides were no longer under regime control. Thousands of unregistered, used cars enter the opposition-held areas from Europe through Turkey.

The Turkish government, which backs the police and general security agencies in the Euphrates Shield area, has established traffic departments in the area with the aim of controlling traffic, reducing theft, proving ownership and controlling traffic safety. In this context, the local police in al-Bab began registering vehicles in cooperation with al-Bab’s local council. Similar departments will be established in the rest of the Euphrates Shield area in the coming period.

Deputy head of the department of motor vehicles Lt. Abdul Qader Osman told Al-Monitor, “We plan on registering all the vehicles and motorcycles by the end of 2018. This will make police work easier and significantly help regulate traffic.”

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Qassem, a car dealer in the Euphrate Shield area, told Al-Monitor, “Vehicle registration will reflect positively on us as car dealers. We can now license the cars imported through Turkey, which means the demand on cars will increase in the coming period.”

The Turkish government is expected to establish more departments of motor vehicles in Azaz, Jarablus, Marea and al-Rai in the Euphrates Shield area by the end of 2018, which would facilitate security, limit car theft, organize traffic and catch criminals rigging cars more easily.

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