Years into war, Damascus hikes fines for dropping litter

An official said the local government wanted to ‘preserve the aesthetic of the city’

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Syria may have been devastated by a five-year civil war, but that hasn’t stopped Damascus city council tackling the problem of unsightly laundry and litter.

The capital’s lawmakers have decided to increase by tenfold the fines they impose for hanging laundry or rugs on balconies -- a common sight across Mediterranean countries.

The charge of 5,000 Syrian pounds ($10, nine euros) also applies to people caught throwing litter from car windows or dumping rubbish in the Barada, the river that crosses the capital, an official told AFP.

Pet-owners are also targeted and must obtain a certificate from a vet, showing that their animals are in good health. Failure to do so incurs the same fine.

The official said the local government wanted to “preserve the aesthetic of the city and tackle environmental and visual pollution.”
Central Damascus has been relatively untouched by the war, but the authorities have seen their tax income plunge and have sought out new ways of raising revenue.

In December 2015, the government slapped taxes on shawarma, a popular meat sandwich, and on restaurant chairs.

They have raised the prices of passports, residence cards for foreigners and exit taxes at the borders the government controls.

Syria’s war has left at least 300,000 people dead since 2011.

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