Security chaos leads to proliferation of weapons in Deir Ezzor

A store selling weapon holsters in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, February 14, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Obadah al-Sheikh)

A store selling weapon holsters in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, February 14, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Obadah al-Sheikh)


Deir Ezzor – Obadah al-Sheikh

The province of Deir Ezzor is witnessing a resurgence of the phenomenon of random weapon proliferation among civilians residing in various parts of the province, raising fears of security conditions deteriorating to more dangerous levels than before the security campaign carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), starting in September 2023.

Despite the presence of security checkpoints and military points belonging to the SDF on the roads, the carrying of weapons randomly has become noticeable. Weapons are appearing in markets, parties, and social events, following a period of calm after the end of the security campaign and the deployment of military checkpoints by the Commandos (SDF special forces).

These measures had previously contributed to the decline of the phenomenon of civilians carrying weapons after the military forces in control of the area confiscated large quantities of weapons and ammunition, removing them from civilian hands.

Security grip loosening

Amjad al-Agha (26 years old) was injured by a bullet during an armed robbery operation at a temporary checkpoint set up by unknown gunmen carrying personal weapons on the main road between the cities of Deir Ezzor and al-Hasakah, known as the “mythical road.”

The young man who works as a driver for an oil transport tanker between areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration, had his mobile phone and $600 stolen by the unknown gunmen while in the car he was driving. He could not defend himself or resist the robbery, fearing for his life.

On another note, Bayan al-Issa (28 years old) confirmed the death of her mother as a result of being hit by random gunfire in the city of Hajin in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor during a wedding celebration.

Bayan’s mother was hit by a stray bullet in the head and underwent several surgical operations to save her in the city of al-Hasakah, but all these attempts were in vain, leading to her death.

Ismail al-Shawakh (45 years old), a teacher at a school in the town of al-Sour north of Deir Ezzor, considered the habit of firing guns at parties not an expression of joy. Mosque preachers also criticized this escalating phenomenon that reflects a lack of awareness.

al-Shawakh told Enab Baladi that the cost of an ammunition magazine could reach 210,000 Syrian pounds, and that some people fire shots wildly without any justification, causing tragic incidents, in his words. He considered ignorance, security laxity, and the proliferation of weapons as reasons for this phenomenon.

Licensing and selling of weapons

A weapons dealer in Deir Ezzor mentioned that he buys Russian ammunition from SDF members at a low price and sells it at a high price per round.

Regarding the details, the dealer Omar (who chose not to disclose his full name for security reasons) told Enab Baladi that he arranges with SDF members to exchange defective weapon parts, such as the “Kalashnikov” and “PKC,” and after refurbishing them and swapping parts, he sells them at high prices. He also trades weapons that come from regime-controlled areas, especially after security gaps occurred due to tribal warfare.

As for the prices of the “Kalashnikov” weapon, they range from $200 to $1500, depending on the type, specifications, and cleanliness, while the price of a “PKC” piece ranges from $1500 to $3000 depending on the type and cleanliness.

A leader in the Internal Security Forces (Asayish), the security arm of the Autonomous Administration (chose not to disclose his name for lack of authorization to speak to the media), pointed out that the process of licensing individual weapons is currently suspended in all areas under the Administration’s control until further notice.

This is not the first time that Deir Ezzor has faced such chaos. The city experienced similar conditions in 2021, and tribal elders in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor asked the Asayish forces at that time to issue strict laws to limit the phenomenon of unlicensed weapon carrying among residents, which represents a threat to what they described as community peace.

Syrian law regulates weapon possession under Legislative Decree No. “51” of 2001, which prohibits the carrying or possession of war pistols, hunting rifles, and their ammunition without prior licensing, setting a maximum limit for the number of weapons allowed to be licensed to one war pistol and one hunting rifle per person.

Various regions in Syria witness the death of civilians due to random shootings or during quarrels. The Monitoring and Documentation Section at North Press Agency reported that 184 civilians were killed or injured in various parts of Syria due to the proliferation of weapons among them and their random use in the first quarter of 2023.



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