By Mohamed Zeid Mestou
Syrian regime-affiliated “thugs” have been engaging in theft and vandalism as part of an effort to punish entire neighborhoods for rising against president Bashar al-Assad.
According to eyewitnesses from different parts of Syria, thugs loyal to the regime, also called “shabeeha” in colloquial Syrian Arabic, storm houses and steal furniture and appliances.
Dozens of videos have also shown thugs breaking stores’ locks and robbing them of the goods on display.
A housewife in the governorate of Rif Dimashq said that thugs and security forces stormed her house and stole her jewelry and money.
“They even stole clothes, shoes, and canned food,” she said. “They also broke all the furniture and my children’s toys. They also threw copies of the Quran on the floor.”
They did that, she explained, to hit back at husband for taking part in the recent anti-government protests which have urged Assad to relinquish power.
Eyewitnesses also said most of the regime loyalists, who carry out acts of theft, do so because they believe the regime is bound to fall sooner or later, trying to benefit from the lack of security and chaos which has hit the country since protests erupted in March 2010.
On Monday, the regime loyalists reportedly burned down the house of one of the activists in Rif Dimashq, then set all the cars in the street on fire and wrote pro-Assad and anti-revolution slogans on the walls.
Another resident of the governorate sent Al Arabiya a video of thugs storming his house and breaking all the furniture.
In Homs, residents also confirmed that such groups had stormed houses and stole furniture. In some cases, they said, they would steal everything and leave the houses totally empty. Some were accompanied by military trucks which they loaded with the stolen furniture to take back to their homes.
Eyewitnesses have also said that the groups are engaging in theft and vandalism because they are given the green light by security forces to do.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)