Who controls rampant insecurity in al-Ziraat neighborhood of Latakia?
Enab Baladi – Latakia
A “Porsche” speeding car hit a mother and her daughter on one of the roads of al-Ziraat neighborhood in the coastal city of Latakia, western Syria. Although the car’s driver was still within sight, no one dared to capture him.
A close relative of the injured family, who was a witness to the traffic accident, spoke to Enab Baladi on condition of anonymity for security reasons, indicating after the mother and her daughter were taken to the hospital immediately, members of the Syrian regime forces threatened their relatives in case light was shed on the details of the traffic accident, demanding them to say that the accident was just a matter of destiny, the mother and her daughter were not paying sufficient attention while crossing the main highway.
Al-Ziraat neighborhood is one of the most prestigious residential areas in Latakia governorate, established in the seventies of the last century after “Tishreen” University and University City were entirely constructed. Today, the neighborhood is one of the most organized and active areas.
The neighborhood contains many “lavish” buildings, inhabited by the cousins of the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad: Ali al-Assad, the sons of Hilal al-Assad, Fawaz al-Assad, and many state officials.
“Abu Zuhair,” aged 45 years, believes that the neighborhood has become a“hotbed of corruption,” as its buildings have turned into security headquarters for members of the Syrian regime forces, from which they can proceed with their security missions.
“Abu Zuhair,” said that the neighborhood is among the “least” safe neighborhoods, due to the proliferation of weapons in the roads and markets.
Enab Baladi monitored the lack of police stations in al-Ziraat neighborhood. Many of its residents consider controlling the spread of weapons in the neighborhood as one of the “greatest” challenges, due to the unofficial presence of armed security personnel and their comrades. They also said that the traffic police patrols deployed in the neighborhood do not have powers to control or stop traffic accidents.
The military “transport” checkpoint, at the main entrance to Latakia governorate, is run by many security branches and has a number of officers such as the rank of colonel, who has been directly responsible for conducting the “ four-quadrant security” since 2012, for all passers-by wishing to enter or exit from the governorate.
The residents of the neighborhood are subjected to what they called “practices of Tashbih/ violent crackdowns” carried out by the owners of“Hummer” cars and four-wheel-drive vehicles, which do not have registration plates. The residents of the neighborhood believe that these vehicles belong to the children of al-Assad families residing in the area.
Muayyad (30 years), a resident of the neighborhood, considers that the security situation is still alarming, unlike the situation in other areas controlled by the Syrian regime forces.
Muayyad told Enab Baladi that the security tension was heightened in the past two days in the neighborhood after a person, believed to be a member of al-Assad family, fired a shot in the main market for no reason, which constituted a state of “terror” among the residents, who did not dare to prevent or get close to him.
The city has previously experienced several fire incidents in residential neighborhoods due to personal differences, since 2011, the most prominent of which was the killing of Brigadier-General Hassan Sheikh at the hands of Suleiman Hilal al-Assad, due to a dispute over the right of way in August 2018.
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