Under increasing rebel harassment on the roads and strapped for supply vehicles, pro-regime forces are resorting to commandeering civilian vehicles at gunpoint in order to move supplies and weapons from one front in central Syria to another, reported the pro-opposition website Islam Memo on Tuesday.
Regime soldiers and their allies “transport the supplies in civilian trucks and small buses that they stop at checkpoints,” Ibrahim a-Shamali, a Hama-based correspondent with the pro-opposition Umayya Center for Research and Strategic Studies, tells Syria Direct’s Noura Hourani.
Q: What is the regime’s goal in using civilian vehicles to transport weapons? Why are they resorting to that?
In some areas, the regime lacks supply vehicles, so they steal civilian vehicles and use them. In many instances, they return them broken. The other reason is that rebel forces have been able to target regime convoys and reinforcements that they are moving from one area to another.
Q: Where has the regime resorted to taking civilian vehicles to move supplies? What can civilians do if this happens?
This happens a lot in the Hama countryside, Sahl al-Ghab and when moving between Hama and Homs via Salamiya in the Hama countryside. I had a personal experience with this. Pro-regime forces commandeered the bus in which someone was transporting a new windshield for my car. A day later, they returned it broken and the windshield for my car was also broken. The owner of the bus wasn’t able to do anything because it all happened at gunpoint.
Q: How do they transport the weapons and supplies?
They transport the supplies in civilian trucks and small buses that they stop at checkpoints. A member of the shabiha or a regime soldier will then drive it personally or they will keep the owner of the vehicle [hostage] and a soldier will escort them at gunpoint. These vehicles are directed to move from one part of regime-controlled territory to another in different provinces.