The interim government and local councils announced the decision amid the Syrian Pound’s freefall as economic conditions worsened.

Opposition-controlled areas in northern Syria are switching to the Turkish Lira in response to the rapid depreciation of the Syrian Pound.

Areas of Aleppo and Idlib, under control by Turkish-backed oppositional groups, witnessed large quantities of Turkish Lira circulating in markets after the opposition coalition government announced the formal adoption of the Turkish Lira in an effort to stabilise the local economy.

The decision to replace the Syrian Pound had come in a statement on Tuesday issued by the President of the Syrian Provisional Government, Abd al-Rahman Mustafa.

“In order to protect citizens’ savings due to the rapid depreciation of the Syrian lira, we intensified our negotiations with the relevant Turkish authorities and took the first step in the process of launching small TL banknotes, which are vital in daily life, in the north of Syria,” he said.

It was declared that denominations of 5, 10, and 20 Turkish Lira would be pumped into various centres in order to maintain the purchasing power of citizens and to facilitate daily transactions.

Among them are towns like Afrin, Azaz, Al-Rai, Marea, Jarablus, and Al-Bab.

Yesterday, many shops in northern Aleppo displayed the pricing of goods in Turkish Lira rather than the Pound.

The decision comes amid the accelerating devaluation of the Syrian pound, which has led to a significant price increase in goods.

A few days ago, the pound’s exchange rate to the dollar crashed to 3,000 – around six times weaker than pre-war levels, making imports expensive and staples such as bread increasingly unaffordable.

Neighbouring Lebanon’s financial crisis and capital controls, along with the pandemic-related lockdown, have contributed to a shortage of dollars and a sharp drop in remittances.

Further instability has stemmed from the consequences of pending US sanctions and the seizure of business tycoon Rami Makhlouf‘s assets.

Local transitions

On Tuesday in the Aleppo countryside, it was reported that branches of the Turkish Post and Telegraph Organisation (PTT) began pumping quantities of Turkish Lira in small amounts after local councils had announced decisions to dispense with the Syrian Pound.

“Most sectors started pricing their fees in Turkish lira, including electricity, internet, gold, and even bread,” said a local source speaking with North Press.

The Jarabulus Chamber of Commerce recommended the usage of Turkish Lira across the public and private sectors, and that essential goods will be subsidised in Lira to help the poor.

In Azaz, the council decision included that civilians would deal with Lira in their purchases and sales. Salaries and wages would also be set in Turkish Lira.

The Marea local council called for dealing in Lira when selling low-value goods while dealing in US dollars for larger amounts. It pointed out that it will impose the switch until the Syrian Pound becomes stable again.

On Monday, the Chamber of Commerce of the Local Council in Akhtrin issued circular fixing prices in Turkish Lira, including daily workers’ wages and crops.

It appears that Idlib will officially follow next.

The move is likely to put additional pressure on the value of the Syrian Pound. 

Even before the latest devaluation, food prices in the country have risen by 133 percent since May 2019, according to the World Food Program (WFP).

Source: TRTWorld and agencies