Fri 28 Feb 2020

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Al-Bab residents carrying weapons… Civilian victims and police deny culpability

Al-Shaab Park in Al-Bab city in Aleppo countryside - 2019 (Enab Baladi) 

Al-Shaab Park in Al-Bab city in Aleppo countryside - 2019 (Enab Baladi) 

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Aleppo countryside – Asim Melhem

 Using arms and shooting in the air is no longer limited to Syrian wedding parties or the celebration of a newborn.

Arms possession is no longer restricted to a few people from al-Bab city in the eastern countryside of Aleppo but instead became within the reach of a large group of the city’s residents, in light of the escalating security chaos and instability in the region, which encouraged the locals to own weapons under the pretext of self-defence.

Poll: Arms’ possession, necessary or rejected?

Several incidents occurred in the al-Bab city in recent months, as a result of the spread of the phenomenon of owning weapons among civilians, who resorted to arms to solve minor problems; yet they further complicated these problems instead.

Some disagreements occurred between families or two factions in al-Bab have resulted in deaths on both sides or led to killing civilians who had nothing to do with the dispute. Therefore, Enab Baladi sought to consult with some residents of the city about the phenomenon.

Abdel-Jawad al-Marai, a resident of the al-Bab city, told Enab Baladi that he encountered young men carrying guns in public places such as markets, shops, and city parks, which are an outlet for many families and children in the area.

Several military headquarters are located in the neighborhoods of the city, and fighters are wandering in its streets, showing off their weapons without being sufficiently familiar with the way those weapons are appropriately used, according to Abdel-Jawad.

Abdel-Jawad expressed concern for his children and family due to the growing phenomenon of weapons’ possession among civilians, which poses a direct threat to his family, as he put it.

Tariq al-Halabi, a city resident, explained to Enab Baladi that although the police have enacted regulations to control security in the al-Bab city, the situation is getting worse amid the absence of a deterrent force to enforce the security measures strictly.

Thaer al-Hassan justified the locals’ motives for owning weapons, especially in the “current situation,” explaining that the worsening of problems and the city residents’ choice to solve their disputes using arms is a direct outcome of a general lack of awareness.

Al-Hassan added: “The possession of weapons is a must to end injustices and resist the oppressor. However, the matter requires a certain degree of awareness and integrity to avoid the occurrence of violations.”

Osama al-Hareth, an activist, residing in the al-Bab city, agreed with al-Hassan, as he considered that possessing a weapon has become a requirement in every household. However, he stressed the need for providing gun owners with the necessary guidance and launched awareness campaigns and seminars on controlling the use of the weapon.

Use of guns regulated

On the security level, al-Bab City Police Command has worked, since March 2019, on a campaign to grant licenses for the weapon owner in the city to control its spread, according to a post published on the police department’s Facebook page.

The city’s police set conditions for granting the licenses and indicated the types of weapons that are permitted to be used.

According to the statistics issued by al-Bab Security Directorate, 90 arrests for possession of weapons were recorded during the first six months of 2019, out of a total of 2261 arrests.

To know more about the role of the city police department in controlling the spread of weapons, Enab Baladi tried to communicate with the commander of the police forces, Major Haitham al-Shihabi. However, he only commented that “the possession of weapons is fully regulated, and there are no uncontrolled armed manifestations in the city.”

 

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