The arrest of members of Bashar al-Assad’s forces, accused of looting civilian’s homes in southern Damascus, by Russian police has sparked widespread discontent among regime soldiers, officers and loyalists, while many others supported the action and have called for an end to the phenomenon of “ta’afeesh”.
The discontent has been reflected in messages left on the official Facebook page for the “Central Channel for the Hemeimeem Base” as well as comments and posts that have been circulated on local loyalist networks, through which regime officers and fighters have expressed their discontent at what they described as “an insult to military people and the prestige of the Syrian state.”
Messages that were sent to the page’s inbox were published, and included condemnation of the incident. Some went as far as to describe the Russian presence as an occupation. It was noted that the messages were sent by regime loyalists and officers.
In one of the messages, from a first lieutenant in the regime’s forces, he attacked Russian forces and blamed them for supporting terrorists in Syria, and described them as an occupation that aimed to take control of Syria’s riches.
The messages were not limited to insults. Some regime soldiers and local residents conveyed gratitude to the Russian forces, expressing their thanks and emphasising the need to fight the phenomenon of ta’afeesh.
In an unofficial response to the incident from the Central Channel, which usually reflects the Russian viewpoint, it said, “Any rebellion by individuals implicated in violating the law and those who support them in areas that have been liberated with the participation with Russian forces will be dealt with forcefully,” in a reference to the widespread looting, which areas of Syria in general have witnessed and in the Damascus countryside and south of the city from which residents have been recently displaced.
Videos and images showing Russian military police, that were deployed in the towns of Yelda, Babbila and Beit Sahem, arresting a group of regime soldiers that were caught looting in Babbila, were widely circulated yesterday. The regime forces were struck and insulted by the Russian police in view of passersby and civilians in Babbila.
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.