Loyalists of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Aleppo protested on Thursday against violations by its forces and allied militias amid growing anger at the regime’s failure to control the abuses of the shabeeha members.
The Aleppo News site on Thursday published images of dozens of regime loyalists protesting in the industrial city near a military barrier called the “prison checkpoint.” The protesters held up placards denouncing thefts by regime forces manning the checkpoints, chanting “no to the barriers of theft” while calling on Assad to control the abuses.
Images showed the protesters standing up to the regime forces at the military checkpoint, a development warning of the growing state of discontent in regime-held areas, as most loyalists are content to express their anger on social media rather than take to the streets in direct confrontation with government forces.
Residents in the regime areas of Aleppo live in constant terror as a result of increasing kidnappings, especially of women and girls, and extortion by the loyalist shabeeha militias. In some cases captives have been killed at the hands of the kidnappers either because the family is unable to pay the ransom or to settle personal accounts.
According to regime media, hardly a week goes by without Aleppo being shaken by a new crime, the most recent of which was on June 11 when a popular committees member shot a child named Ahmad Jaweesh while he was selling chewing gum in the Al-Mojambo district. The culprit is still in hiding, amid calls from residents to impose the death penalty on the member of the pro-regime forces.
The many abuses, killings, kidnappings and thefts in the city indicate the clear inability of the Assad regime to control its forces. According to a media activist from Aleppo, Mohamad al-Shafei, the reason for that is that some of the fighters in the regime forces are backed by official figures and it is not possible to approach them or to hold them to account for their crimes.
The people of the city live in constant anticipation, not because they are subjected to killing and kidnapping, but because of the spread of crime in their districts, and the fear of what could result from any dispute with regime fighters.
The situation in Aleppo’s districts resembles the remaining areas under regime control in which local and foreign militias are deployed at military checkpoints, especially in Homs and Damascus. The “ta’feesh” (looting) carried out by regime forces in the areas where they are located are considered a characteristic associated with them, while the regime has not appeared to respond to the appeals of residents of these areas harmed by the practices of the shabeeha.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.