Syrian Security Services continue to detain and arrest youths in the province of Hama for alleged reasons, such as evading military service for those whose conscription is postponed. According to STJ field researchers in Hama and its surroundings, more than 25 men and a woman were detained or arrested between May 15 and June 15, 2019.
1. Detentions and arrests in the city of Hama
STJ field researcher documented the detention and arrest of 12 young men and an elderly woman in the city of Hama alone, by agents of different security branches. Some of those held were transferred to the Military Intelligence Directorate in Damascus, as reported by their relatives.
a. Arrests over different allegations
On May 18, 2019, a patrol of the military security branch stormed the house of al-Daqaq family in Bab al-Qibli neighborhood, Hama city, and detained the 28-year-old man A.L., who is the only son of the family, and drove him to the branch building located on Homs-Hama highway. His family never heard from him since, despite their repeated attempts by to inquire about his whereabouts. It is noteworthy that the man had returned to Hama form Idlib five months ago after regularizing his status, as a relative of him told STJ saying:
“Five years ago, my relative fled to Idlib because he was wanted for the security services. However, he recently came back to Hama after he settled his status, and no one got in his way. But shortly after, he was arrested and disappeared without knowing why.”
In a similar incident, Wael 27, was arrested at a checkpoint on the road to the city of Masyaf from Lebanon on May 30, 2019. His family received unconfirmed information that he is held at the Military Intelligence Directorate of Hama. One of Wael’s relatives stated to STJ:
“Wael has already paid the fee to be exempted from military service, since he is an expat living in Lebanon for more than five years with his brothers. He used to come home on vacation without being questioned by the military agents on the road. But this time when a checkpoint stopped the van he was in, he called his mom and tell her that he would likely be arrested, before the agents took his cell phone and arrested him indeed. Days after, we received information that the Military Security Branch transferred Wael to Damascus.”
On June 5, 2019 Baker.Th., 30, was arrested by an Air Force Intelligence patrol from his workplace in al-Ba’ath neighborhood.
A friend of Baker told STJ:
“An Air Force Intelligence patrol arrested Baker from his mobile phone shop and seized a sum of money they found. They accused him of illegal transfer of money and foreign exchange, and we, however, don’t know if those accusations are true or not. We received uncertain information about Baker being transferred to Damascus.”
On June 15, 2019 a 65-year-old woman called W.F. was arrested on her way from Hama towards northern rural Aleppo, from where she planned to access Idlib, willing to see her sons. A relative of the woman told STJ:
“My aunt left Hama towards rural Aleppo to access Idlib from there, it’s a tow-day journey. However, we lost contact with her after she exit Hama to learn two days later that she was detained in the Military Security Branch of Aleppo and we’ve been trying to release her since then.”
Since the beginning of June, security agents have been deployed daily after midnight in the Janoub Al-Malaab Neighborhood in the city of Hama and detained a number of people for few hours then released them. STJ documented the arrest of a teacher from Idlib, at al-Maknanah checkpoint on the Hama- Salamiyah highway, while on his way to Hama to receive his salary on June 10, 2019. It also managed to document the arrest of six people at the Kazo neighborhood checkpoint in Hama between 8 and 15 June 2019.
b. Detention for conscription
On May 21, 2019 three university students were arrested from Bab Trablus garages in Hama for being allegedly wanted for compulsory military service, though showing their conscription postponement documents, as an eyewitness confirmed to STJ saying:
“I was in a bus at the garages when four agents came and asked the youths to present their IDs and military service books. I heard the youths saying that they are final year university students and have military service postponement documents.”
2. Detentions and arrests in rural Hama
STJ field researcher in eastern rural Hama reported the arrest of 11 young men from the districts of Sinjar and Aqrabat, northeastern Hama, on various charges. The STJ field researcher interviewed relatives of those arrested for more details and quoted one of them saying:
“The Tell al-Tut military security checkpoint on the Salamiyah city road near Barri Sharki district, arrested Mahmoud K.R., who is from the village of Sarha while heading to Hama city on May 15, 2019, without knowing why. Agents on the checkpoint confiscated Mahmoud’s identity documents and a sum of money he was holding, then sent him to the Military Security Branch in the city of Hama. His fate is still unknown.”
On May 17, 2019 military security agents arrested three youths from the village of al-Bowaider located on the edges of southern rural Aleppo alongside northeastern rural Hama without explaining the reasons, according to a local. The brother of one of those arrested from Maksar al-Janoubi in Sinjar district said to STJ:
“On June 3, 2019 the brothers Zuhair M.A. and Abdel Moneim M.A. were arrested from their house, on false allegations about selling weapons to armed groups, by a patrol of four vehicles affiliated to the military security, headed by the mayor of the Khersan village.”
On the same date, the military security arrested 5 youths from the village of Maksar, Idlib for reasons unknown, according to a local.
STJ has documented dozens of arrest and detention cases in the city of Hama in the last few months. The fate of those held still unknown.
“Syria: Arrests and Kidnappings on the Rise in Hama”, STJ, April 8, 2019 https://stj-sy.org/ar/1243/
“At Least 10 Youths and a Woman Arrested in Hama on Different Charges”, STJ, February 6, 2019 https://stj-sy.org/ar/1171/.