Saida, Lebanon – “A Couple of months ago at a garage at al-Hajiz crossing in the city of Aleppo, two men were obliged to pay the armed groups at the security checkpoint in order to cross, as happens routinely with many people there,” Hamdo Abu Bakri began telling ARA News.
Abu Bakri said: “One of the men is a member of the Free Syrian Army and the other is an ordinary person who wanted to pass the crossing with some bags. However, the latter was not allowed to do this without paying a sum of money to the FSA member.”
Abu Bakri continued that this happens to everyone saying: “After the FSA checkpoint, the man arrived at the regime’s checkpoint and paid again to pass with the bags.”
“We are unable to correct the situation or even object to these practices,” he pointed out.
Abu Bakri mentioned that this was also the case on the Aleppo-Damascus highway where FSA and the regime’s army “take money from travelling citizens”.
In Damascus, Abu al-Walid al-Harastani talked to ARA News about a similar situation in the capital on Duma’s access to the regime-held neighbourhoods.
Al-Harastani said: “This checkpoint does not wish for the crisis to end as they earn millions of Syrian Pounds a day to let people come and go.”
Al-Harastani mentioned that many companies stopped distributing their goods in the stable neighbourhoods as selling the goods in contested areas is more profitable.
“In places like Darayya and al-Yarmouk in Damascus countryside, these companies sell the goods double the normal price. Even the free market in Adra was completely robbed in collaboration with the regime’s checkpoint in the market,” Al-Harastani added.
Back to Aleppo, Abu Bakri told the story of one of the factories in Aleppo Industrial City, which was sold for 10 million SP to a Turkish merchant by FSA members, though it is worth 70 million SP.
“The owner of the factory contacted the FSA members to give them 10 million and regain his factory but they told him, we gave our word to the Turkish merchant,” Abu Bakri said.
Different stories are heard here and there in Syria; not only robbery but also humiliation is seen on checkpoints held either by the FSA and pro-Assad forces.
Speaking to ARA News, Mustafa al-Ajami, a resident of Aleppo, said: “A senior official of the Local Administration Ministry was hit on one of the regime’s checkpoints because he used that crossing. Later on, the Ministry itself dismissed the man.”
Activist Zahir al-Musilmani told ARA News in Damascus a story from the other side of the crisis: “An FSA member, on al-Qaboun checkpoint in Damascus, stopped his former history teacher and slapped him before his family because the teacher had slapped him once for being late for the class.”
Many similar stories take place every day in Syria, which causes people to think that none of the conflicting sides is to be completely blamed on what is going on.
Reporting by: Hussam al-Zeer
Source: ARA News
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