An All4Syria correspondent in Damascus has reported that several security patrols carried out yesterday's arrest campaign in the Shaghour area of central Damascus. The correspondent stated that the campaign’s goal was to arrest merchants working to exchange funds illegally in the exchange market.
Four merchants were arrested in the Shaghour area, all Sunnis. A significant proportion of Shiite shabeeha in the region are also involved in dollar exchange operations.
Opposition media sources in Damascus said that many arrests took place recently against the Damascene merchants who work in the dollar exchange market following tip-offs by Syrian intelligence forces. The last of these arrests targeted merchants captured by regime forces, subjecting them to beatings and torture for information.
The sources asked all citizens in Damascus to be cautious and avoid carrying any dollars, after many civilians have been arrested without release on charges of possessing the dollar. It is believed a number of detainees have also been executed inside regime prisons.
The dollar reached 259 against the Syrian pound on the Damascus black market yesterday, and it is likely to rise to about 350 pounds by the middle of this year. Some analysts expect the pound to reach as high as 500 pounds at the end of the year.
Security forces have intensified "temporary" security checkpoints in the heart of Damascus on Saturday afternoon with an unprecedented inspection campaign, according to reports by the Syrian Revolution Council in Damascus.
The source added the security forces at the deployed "temporary" checkpoints have stopped more than 90 civilians in the Garage Assit area, usually crowded with hundreds of civilians returning to their homes.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer