Ayman al-Asimi, a member of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), has highlighted that the daily extortion and blackmail of Syrian citizens in areas under the control of the Assad regime is not an isolated act carried out by a few security elements. Instead, it is a systemic practice adopted by the entire security apparatus of the regime to generate revenue.
Al-Asimi emphasized that the Assad regime grants the security services the authority to extort the population as a means to secure their unwavering loyalty. He further noted that the regime has come to realize that corrupt agencies have nothing to ensure their allegiance except for engaging in corruption. Consequently, the regime deliberately allows the security agencies to thrive on bribery, taxes, and extortion.
Moreover, Al-Asimi pointed out that security checkpoints in areas controlled by the Assad regime engage in extorting money from anyone passing through. Civilians are subjected to harassment by security forces manning these checkpoints, who resort to various tactics to extort money. This includes forcing passengers to disembark from vehicles and wait for permission to continue their journey, as well as compelling truck drivers to unload their cargo or damaging it with sharp tools under the guise of searching for illicit materials.
In separate reports, the Free Houran Conglomerate and the Action Group for the Palestinians of Syria provided details on the widespread extortion in Dara’a and Damascus. They emphasized that checkpoint personnel extort money from all individuals of military age who fail to produce documents justifying the postponement of compulsory military service.
It is worth noting that extortion is not limited to specific areas within the regime-controlled regions; it is a pervasive issue across all territories. The primary role of security checkpoints is to harass the populace and extract money through the use of force, with no positive contribution to combating theft, kidnapping, or other criminal activities.
(Source: SOC’s Media Department)