AL-QAEDA’S ALEPPO CHECKPOINT: Residents of Aleppo’s Bustan al-Qaser neighborhood demonstrate against hardline Islamist rebels manning a checkpoint that sits squarely between government and insurgent held areas of the city. It’s the new Green Line in Aleppo, with the Islamists reportedly withholding food and supplies from crossing into the government-held side of the city.
“The crossing point is helpful for financing the fighting battalions,” says local photographer Mahmud Jabali. The merchandise passing through is taxed. “When I asked the battalions why they take taxes, their answer was because no one supports them,” Jabali said.
The al-Hajez Garage crossing point is controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and a-Sham. Brigades are using the strategic location not only to raise taxes on civilians transporting food for their families but to enforce their notions of Islamic law.
In a related incident on Wednesday, a local resident observed an ISIS fighter confiscating cigarettes from a civilian, claiming tobacco is prohibited during Ramadan.
According to Jabali, the neighborhood’s Local Coordination Council has held unsuccessful talks with ISIS to turn the checkpoint over to civilian residents.
The video from the Bustan al-Qasr Information Office concludes with a jihadist pulling a fire arm. There are conflicting reports on whether the shot heard on tape is coming from the ISIS fighters or an army sniper posted on a roof of the crossing known locally as “Death’s Passageway.” Video courtesy of Bustan al-Qaser and Kalaseh Media Office.