Wed 21 Aug 2019

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Ghouta A Big Prison And Russians A Shelter In Douma

Russian forces accompanying Syrian regime forces at the entrance to the al-Wafddien Camp, Douma (Sputnik)

Russian forces accompanying Syrian regime forces at the entrance to the al-Wafddien Camp, Douma (Sputnik)

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Following months of “luxurious security,” Ghouta bears witness to the return of regime forces and its affiliated security services, which resumed the restrictions they once imposed on exit and entry, to an extent with which the area has become a quasi-communal prison, for those fearing arrest and others required to perform mandatory or reserve military service.

 

The aggravating restrictions correspond to a time where the return of services in Ghouta is following a different rhythm from one town to another; the rhythm actually differs from one neighborhood to another within the same area. The difference as an aspect also applies to the security services in control of the area, divided into Douma and the two Ghouta enclaves-the central and the southern, not to mention the al-Marj area, which provides an extension to eastern rural Damascus.

 

Only holders of exit permits can leave Ghouta

 

Douma is controlled by the State Security Service while the central enclave of eastern Ghouta lingers under the command of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate.

 

However, no accurate information reports the side holding the southern areas, Deir al-Asafir, Hutaytet al-Turkman and Hutaytet al-Jarash villages included.

 

Taking over the eastern countryside of the capital Damascus between March and May 2018, the Syrian regime forces and security services have demanded security permits from people whether getting out or into Ghouta. These restrictions were followed by a state of poor security screening.

 

The security restrictions, nonetheless, have found their way back to the area once again.

 

Citizens from Eastern Ghouta informed Enab Baladi that the regime forces have recommenced the stress on security permits since the beginning of July 2019, at the entrances to Damascus from Ghouta, the ones in Douma, Ein Tarma and al-Mleha.

 

The citizens stressed that the checkpoints inside Ghouta rarely conduct inspections of passengers, unlike the checkpoints at the capital’s entrance.

 

The scrutiny made it difficult for persons, facing security-related issues, such as the necessity to perform the mandatory military service or those whose status legalization documents are not completed, to leave the area to Damascus.

 

Civilians resorting to Russians in Douma

 

The city of Douma has a status of a specific nature compared to other areas in Ghouta, manifested in Russia’s direct interference in its files and its people’s seeking Russian officials to file grievances and demand their rights, a source informed of the complaints told Enab Baladi.

 

The Russian Police Patrols are yet entering the area routinely, under the provisions of the deal signed by Russia and the Jaysh al-Islam/ Army of Islam, which was in control of the area.

 

The source noted that the Russian forces, positioned in the city, are answering the complaints filed by the people and are obtaining people some of their rights, while the Syrian security services stopped raiding houses and arresting the people they are chasing there.

 

The arrests are targeting the prosecuted persons at checkpoints and on the streets, the source said, based on lawsuits relating to the individuals’ former actions, or for reasons having to do with phone calls with relatives abroad, especially those in Northern Syria.

 

The source added that the citizens are paying 200 Syrian pounds as a fee for entering and exiting Ghouta, demanding no justifications for their passage.

 

Separate intra-restrictions

 

Since their control of the area, the regime forces have intensified internal inspections in Ghouta, in search for weapons, navigating the area through information provided by former militants of opposition factions, who underwent legalization of status with the regime.

 

The inspection campaigns are launched by the forces at different times in each separate town in eastern Ghouta, which escalated when the area was taken over through the investigation to which civilians and militants who stayed in the area were subjected to, subsiding gradually and making a starting point of the intelligence information they gathered.

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