Out of Syria’s darkness come tales of terror

Robert Fisk writes:

In Damascus, the posters – in their tens of thousands around the streets – read: “Anxious or calm, you must obey the law.” But pictures of President Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez have been taken down, by the security police no less, in case they inflame Syrians.

There are thieves with steel-tipped rubber coshes on the Damascus airport road at night, and in the terminal the cops ask arriving passengers to declare iPods and laptops. In the village of Hala outside Deraa, Muslim inhabitants told their Christian neighbours to join the demonstrations against the regime – or leave.

And they are true. Syrians arriving in Lebanon are bringing the most specific details of what is going on inside their country, of Fifth Brigade soldiers fighting the armed units of Maher Assad’s Fourth Brigade outside Deraa, of random killings around Damascus by the ever-growing armed bands of Shabiha (“the mafia”) from the Alawite mountains, of massive stocking up of food. One woman has just left her mother in the capital with 10 kilos of pasta, 10 kilos of rice, five kilos of sugar, box after box of drinking water.

In Deraa – surrounded, without electricity or water or supplies – the price of bread has risen 500 per cent and men are smuggling food into the city over the fields at night.

But it is the killings which terrify the people. Are they committed by the Shabiha from the port city of Lattakia – created by the Assad family in the 70s to control smuggling and protection rackets – or by the secret police to sow a fear that might break the uprising against Assad? Or by the murderers who thrive amid anarchy and lawlessness? Three men carrying sacks of vegetables outside Damascus at night were confronted by armed men last week. They refused to stop. So they were executed.

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One thought on “Out of Syria’s darkness come tales of terror

  1. Norman

    What a sad set of actions these old repressive regimes engage in as they are challenged. Unlike the past, they are falling, the changes taking place are overdue. Getting rid of the despots is the only way to go. There are lessons to be learned here, ones that every country that rules through fear and intimidation, their days are numbered. This should be the wake up call not just to these Arab States, but to the West as well. To coin a phrase, Moore’ s Law, the changes taking place are doing so within days/months, instead of a year or two. The Western countries themselves will undergo these changes as well, as they have allowed financial considerations to undermine the citizens of their own countries. It remains to be seen whether these changes will be peaceful or otherwise. This is the 21st Century, events happen too quickly, but the western thinking is still in the 20th Century, or before.

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