In a rare moment of unity between regime loyalists and the opposition, both sides have spoken out against the unacceptable and provocative acts of pro-Assad shabeeha militants in the coastal city of Lattakia.
“I wish they [would] go to fronts and get killed by the rebels to free us from their actions and crimes,” lawyer Sulaiman Hassoun told Zaman al-Wasl.
“Agob,” a moneychanger, said the people of Lattakia had become familiar with actions of the shabeeha since the 1980s, but said that the modern-day militants had surprised him in their unbelievable and shocking acts.
He added that shabeeha have entered his shop and stolen money straight from people’s hands, without concern for security cameras or witnesses. “I spoke to the security and police, but nothing is expected to be done,” Agob said.
Residents of the regime stronghold have revealed incidents involving shabeeha militants breaking into shops and looting them in broad daylight and in the presence of shop owners, as well as driving their cars against traffic, blocking roads, and ignoring queues at bakeries and petrol stations.
Lattakia Media Network correspondent Mohammed al-Sahili reported that a group of shabeeha on Friday blocked the road leading to the Lattakia National Hospital and prevented ambulances from passing, despite desperate calls from a lady accompanying her husband after he had suffered a stroke.
Syrian Coast News, a pro-regime Facebook page, wrote: "Then what we can do with those who wear the military uniform outside the army, we are fed up with their acts, they took everyone’s turn, even at stations or bakeries they push women and take their turn, and if anyone talks back to them, they hurt him and ask if he knows who they are.”
Lawyer Hassoun explained that shabeeha are not part of any official military formation, and that many act as bodyguards for prominent security and military figures who do not leave the coast. Hassoun says shabeeha receive backing for all their actions from their bosses.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.