Shabiha, regime thugs, have been attacking and plundering houses, shops and factories in Aleppo since the regime regained control of the city late last year, residents have reported.
The forces, which the Assad regime refers to as the Popular Committees or the National Defence Forces, are groups formed and armed by the regime at the start of the revolution in 2011 to repress the demonstrations. They are now looting and occupying homes, stealing from shops and imposing fees on factory owners.
Residents have been left defenceless as these armed groups threaten them and steal their possessions.
The regime has been left completely unable to control these groups which have surged to include thousands of men and women. A group called Al-Anajra took over many houses in the Saif Al-Dawla neighbourhood. When the residents, who wished to return to their homes, called the police, the Shabiha members and their wives brandished their weapons and the police fled.
The sources added that another group called Al-Fahr has imposed “royalties” on the owners of factories in the industrial part of the city in addition to setting up barriers at the entrance to the city, forcing people to pay for the right of passage.
Factory owners have also been forced to sell their good to members of the Shabiha at a fixed price, only for them to be resold at a much higher value.
As a route out of the compulsory military service, many young are now joining the Shabiha in order to obtain a “security card” from the authorities that will prevent them from being arrested and forced into military service.