A view of damaged buildings in Jobar as seen from Harasta highway, in Damascus, Syria March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
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The external hard drive had been smuggled from Syrian regime territory through extremist-held towns and into Turkey.Fearing Syria's regime would expropriate abandoned properties or tamper with deeds, a network of activists and lawyers set their covert plan into motion.For nearly five years, Koronful's Free Syrian Lawyers have been working to preserve property deeds and other civil paperwork in Syria's opposition areas.They enter town registries, photograph the documents, carefully log and organize them, then smuggle the hard drives across Syria's sealed northern border into Turkey. Among them are up to 450,000 land-related documents from northern and central Syria – title deeds, contracts, and other papers that displaced Syrians could use to prove property ownership.Smuggling out original deeds from other towns was risky and could be considered tampering, so the FSL's 15 lawyers opted for the next best thing: digital copies.In 2013, days before FSL was to begin photographing deeds in the northern town of Al-Bab, Daesh (ISIS) swept in and destroyed the registry, Koronful said.
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