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Al-Tal town: youth arrested despite reconciliation deal with regime

Local | 2017-07-22 12:52:48
Al-Tal town: youth arrested despite reconciliation deal with regime
(Zaman Al Wasl)- Over the past few days, the Syrian regime security services launched large-scale raids and arrest campaigns in the city of al-Tal, north of Damascus. The arrests affect some residents although their situations were legally “settled” according to the reconciliation agreement signed with the regime in November 2016.

The Voice of the Capital network which communicates news about Damascus city and countryside mentioned that al-Tal has witnessed security tension in the past week after the regime launched a house search campaign in the city. The campaign resulted in the arbitrary arrest of many residents. The network indicated that it was difficult to document the details of arrests because al-Tal has been under Syrian regime force control since the beginning of December 2016. 

Speaking to Zaman al-Wasl, Mourad Mardini, the communications officer at the Voice of the Capital network, said that the arrest campaign in al-Tal is aimed at getting more young men from the city involved in the regime’s battles on the fronts in Eastern al-Ghouta, Daraa, Hama countryside and the Syrian Badia against the resistance factions and the Islamic State forces. It must be noted that some of al-Tal’s men previously fought against the regime in the Barada Valley and the eastern neighborhoods of Damascus.

Mardini added that the regime Political Security branch was pursuing civilians who communicate using landlines or mobile lines with people in the liberated areas in northern Syria. He explained that all telephone lines, men’s and women’s alike, are currently being monitored. Two women from the city were arrested by the Immigration and Passports directorate in Damascus for unknown reasons, and the arresting authority remains unknown at present.

According to Mardini, the regime has recently carried out raids on residential buildings in al-Ruwais area in al-Tal which ended with the regime forces leaving buildings loaded with bags, believed to contain weapons. Mardini warned that the regime intelligence forces are intensively following a group of people who were involved in or had ties to relief work in the city before the settlement, as well as persons receiving large remittance sums from outside Syria.

On the other hand, al-Tal is currently is being managed almost entirely by the Political Security branch which returned terror and fear again to the streets of the city. In this context, Kamal al-Khatib, a pseudonym for a resident of al-Tal, said that the Military Intelligence and Air Intelligence forces are dispersed in the city. He added that their personnel are executing raids and arbitrarily arresting civilians under various pretexts such as searching for hidden weapon caches, or searching for draftees evading their mandatory military service. 

In a special statement to Zaman al-Wasl, al-Khatib said the regime has broken all its previous commitments which it gave the people of al-Tal. So far the regime has reneged on its pledge not to allow its forces to enter the city, its pledge to appoint around 200 of al-Tal’s residents maintain security in the city, and not establish any regime intelligence checkpoints within its residential neighborhoods and main streets.

Al-Khatib explained that the pro-regime Qalamoun Shield militia which young men from the city joined after the settlement of their security situation with the regime, has increased its activities in the area. The young men signing up for the militia believed that they were escaping from serving their mandatory military service and avoiding being arrested.

 They believed they would not be forced to fight alongside regime forces outside the city of al-Tal. Al-Khatib confirmed that the militia commanders are sending them for immediate fighting with regime forces on various fronts. Many of those sent away to fight are returning to the city killed or suffering from injuries that cause permanent disability. 

Commenting on the Qalamoun Shield militia, Mardini said the militia recently withdrew more than 50 militia members from al-Tal, the majority are former resistance fighters, and sent them to fight on the fronts against the Islamic State forces in rural Hama. The militia command deceived these men by claiming they were going to conduct inspection tours and arrest wanted people from the town of Hafir. The bus changed the destination taking them to rural Hama. 

In a related context, the Reconciliation Committee in al-Tal receives lists from time to time including the names of thousands of men the regime wants for mandatory military service or military reserve service. The regime is taking advantage of the population density in al-Tal to recruit more men into its forces especially as according to local activities there are at least 10,000 military service evaders in the city. 

The agreement reached between the regime representatives, the committee authorized to communicate on behalf of the city’s residents, and the city’s resistance factions resulted in 500 fighters and more than 1500 young men wanted by the regime, leaving the city. Their families accompanied them and the notorious green buses transported them to the northern Idlib province.
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