A general view of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus on April 17, 2018 after the Syrian army declared that all anti-regime forces have left Eastern Ghouta, following a blistering two month offensive on the rebel enclave. AFP / STRINGER
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Syria's government has been using a little-known anti-terrorism law to seize property from dissidents and their families as it takes back control of areas that were held by rebel groups, rights groups and some of the people affected say.One man, an architect who joined street protests against Assad early in the uprising and posted anti-government material online, lost his house, office and farmland in Eastern Ghouta, in southwestern Syria as well as his car, he said.He now lives in the northwestern province of Idlib after fleeing with many other Eastern Ghouta residents after its surrender in April.As they stand to lose property permanently, and because in many cases they have family members still living under government control, none of the six people who spoke to Reuters after being named in seizure orders wanted to be identified.Human Rights Watch said orders to freeze assets were among numerous laws the Syrian government used to punish political dissidents and opponents.Two Syrian activist groups, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Syrian Network for Human Rights, said they had verified numerous cases.Paradoxically, it is often the people who left Eastern Ghouta who are in most need of the property they left behind.
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