Bandits and Criminal Gangs Threaten Syria’s Rebellion
The checkpoint wasn’t a permanent or even makeshift structure—just a couple of armed men, some in civilian clothing, others wearing items of military apparel, standing in the middle of a main road just outside the town of Abu Ad-Duhur, some 50 kilometers south of Idlib city. Their faces were uncovered. It was 10am and there was traffic on the road when Abu Ibrahim, a well-to-do, dignified, 60-year-old engineer, duly stopped his Kia hatchback at the human barricade. “All I saw were guns pointing into the car, they told me to get out,” Abu Ibrahim says. “One of the men said ‘take his car, but don’t insult him.”
It wasn’t the first time Abu Ibrahim had been carjacked by people he says were posing as fighters in the Free Syrian Army, the motley rebel force taking on Syrian President Bashar Assad. Two weeks earlier, his family’s sedan was also stolen under similar circumstances. It would be returned to him, he was told, if he forked over 400,000 Syrian pounds ($6,225). He refused, and accepted the loss of his vehicle.
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This time, however, he was not going to accept the same outcome. He told a local FSA leader in charge of some 30 men to try and get it back. “We suffer here from the fact that the thuwar [revolutionaries] have fallen between two fires — the regime and criminals who say they are thuwar,” Abu Ibrahim said.