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Arms Trade In Idlib, The Black Hole

Features | 2017-08-13 10:30:19
Arms Trade In Idlib, The Black Hole
By Faris Rifai

(Zaman Al Wasl)- Since the liberation of the city of Idlib the regime, arms stores started to spread selling all types of weapons and military equipment. Stores sell ordinary barrages, machine guns, bombs and even to individual weapons allocated for assassinations with prices ranging from $ 400 to $ 1,000. Idlib turned into something like a "black hole", according to the description of the pharmacist and activist Mamoun Sayed Issa, local in Idlib city.

some weapons come across the open border with Iraq and some are looted by the factions. Some weapons are also bought from ISIS by arms dealers.

These weapons come from the forces of the regime and its militias, but it is remarkable that there is a secret character that encapsulates channels operating in the supply of weapons from outside the liberated areas.

Issa conducted field visits to some of the arms stores in the Idlib markets. He told Zaman al-Wasl, you can obtain a rifle for $ 150 or a bomb for 2000 SP. This means that you can kill 10 People at least with a cost of 2000 SP (less than $ 4).

He referred to the dangers of this chaos in the spread of weapons on the security of the population in the liberated areas, pointing out that the existence of a firm doctrine and fear of God Almighty as well as the character of Syrian people were reasons that limited incidents of theft and looting.

He stressed that a strong economic activity extends up to late hours at night in the liberated areas especially areas close to Sarmada and al-Dana in Idlib countryside. However, incident s of violation are very limited.

He pointed out that the lack of controls on the sale of weapons in liberated areas and anyone can buy weapons. Weapons in America are sold in shops and US law provides that the purchase of weapons legally require the investigation of the FBI on the criminal record data of the buyer.

He attributed the cheap prices of arms to the law of "supply and demand", like any market, but the truce and the cessation of hostilities, he said, contributed to reducing prices, contrary to the situation when the fighting was raging.

"The existence of fighting and the availability of arms with the factions is revealed kind of the secrecy that takes over the world of arms dealing. Also, factions leaders sometimes may be forced to sell arms, especially with the rationing of the military support resources of the Syrian revolution and to cover expenditure needs.

Issa narrated that he met with an arms dealer from in Idlib countryside. Issa asked the dealer about the status of the arms market and he told him its very good profit for someone who has good connections with the faction. Issa told the dealer he wants to buy a tank and he was surprised by the response. The arms dealer was ready to hand it over for a price range betweeen $ 150,000 to 185,000, and tank models start from the "T52" through newer models such as the "BMB".

Issa added there are other types of weapons he has seen sold on the shelves of shops in Idlib, including "the Russian gun, which ranges from 100 to 1000$, the Chinese type 250 and Tabuki $ 200, RPG 500 $, and M16 at the price of 850$ and a missile "Grad" $ 800.

But what surprised him- as he says - that the price of the bomb did not exceed 2000 SP, at the price of two packs of "Kent" cigarettes.

-Absence of authority-

Issa called for the establishment of a police force in order to spread security and safety, reduce thefts and crimes, maintain public and private property, resolve disputes between citizens, bring violators to justice and implement decisions of a new judicial institution, and the closure of shops that operate without a watchdog or accountability.

Issa said that the absence of central authority in the liberated areas and the inability of the factions to control the security situation well have a negative impact on the security of citizens in the liberated areas. The series of bombings, booby traps and assassinations continue, especially from sleeper cells that work for the regime and ISIS and this is a permanent nightmare for the inhabitants of liberated areas.

In his turn, Judge Dr. Mohamad Nour Hamidi said that one of the most important reasons for the lack of controls regarding the proliferation of arms sales in Idlib is the lack of one authority supervising the control of security and the existence of more than one faction within the province. 

Hamidi stressed that, "one of the reasons for the prevalence of selling arms is also the fear of the citizen from being harassed and sometimes kidnapped which makes everyone accept to buy arms and thus selling arms become a profitable profession.
He pointed out that ordinary people cannot work in this trade, it is limited to people supported by influential parties whose world is chaotic, as practiced without restrictions or approvals or licenses.

Hamidi who was the head of public prosecution in Idlib before the revolution confirmed that the lawyers of the province are prohibited from pleading and judges have no role in curbing this phenomenon, and cannot have a role if there is no elected authority and civil administration and an independent judiciary.

Hamidi called on Hayat to Tahrir al-Sham to activate civil life and put the right man in the right place, and leave the civilian matters to specialists and military matters to the military and not to turn Idlib into another Mosul or Raqqa.

The Idlib province has witnessed separate assassinations using light weapons as well as cases of improvised explosive devices and mines.

According to statistics of the Idlib Free Police, 1,142 crimes were committed in the city and its countryside by means of weapons between January and April 2017, mainly thefts and robberies, which amounted to 571 crimes, abuse 156 cases and arms quarrels 272 cases , Kidnapping 15, forced disappearance 16, and vandalism 112 cases.
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