Workshop ‘’the Security Structure in the Liberated Areas in North of Syria’’

On November 28, 2019, in Gaziantep, the Stabilization Committee in partnership with KALmec (Kalyoncu Middle East Research Center) has held a workshop entitled ‘’the Security structure in the liberated areas’’.
The Importance of this workshop lays in that the most important factor that effects the lives of the civilians are the security factors / issues.
The Workshop attended by the Syrian Interim Government’s Minister of Justice and the representative of Syrian Interim Government’s Interior Ministry, alongside Heads of Local Councils, representatives of civil & military police forces, representatives of Military factions, lawyers, Judges and CSO representatives in the northern countryside of Aleppo. As they are directly concerned with the security issues in the liberated areas in North of Syria.

The workshop started by the Opening speeches of the Head of the Stabilization Committee and Director of KALmec. Immediately after the opening speeches the Stabilization Committee’s research office head has presented a presentation about the vehicle bombings that targeted liberated areas in north of Aleppo in between June 22, 2018 and November 27, 2019. The presentation included the information about the number of the vehicle bombings targeted the region during the mention time frame, casualties (death & injuries) caused by the bombings, means used in the bombings, the measures taken to prevent them and the effects of the bombings.

The workshop was divided into five sections
1- The Role of the Civil / Local Police
2- Judicial Processes Regarding the Security Issues
3- The Role of the Local Councils and the Living Conditions in Light of the Current Security Situation
4- The Role of Military Factions in Reducing Terrorist’s Operations / Attacks
5- Impact of the Security Situations on the Civil Society Organizations and the Humanitarian Work

The First Section: The Role of Local Police in Raising the Level of Security. The Security Problems and the Suggested Solutions:

In this section the representative of Security / police directorate of Azaz City Major Firas Sheikh Mohammed has talked about the structure of the police bodies, their work and the total number of the police personal working in the norther countryside of Aleppo (The region that extends from Afrin to Jarabulus to Al-Bab). He said that there are about 7000 male police personal and 500 female police personal.
Then in this section the representative of Syrian Interim Government’s Interior Ministry, Lieutenant Colonel Trad Saadoun took the stage, he talked about the challenges facing the security & police bodies in controlling the security situation in the region and that there is a need to several factors to enhance the security situation, namely;

  • Establishment of a central police command to lead the police bodies throughout the region.
  • The need to restructure the police bodies in terms of expertise
  • Strengthen the coordination among police officers and bodies working in the region.
  • To create a cooperation mechanism between the check points in the region, including the exchange of information between them (through establishment of a joint check points operation room).
  • To adopt a system of promotion and demobilization of police officers.
  • The need to reduce the phenomenon of the proliferation of weapons inside the cities and take out the headquarters of military factions outside the cities to contribute to reducing the chaos of the proliferation of weapons.
  • The need to adopt a unified internal system, mechanisms of action and laws & rules for all police bodies in the region.

Lieutenant Colonel Trad stated that there are plans in the hands of the Interior Ministry to enhance at the current situation and plans for the post political solution stage in Syria.

Then open discussion took place among the participants about the possibility of increasing the technical support and equipment provided to the security / police bodies to increase their eligibility and capacity to detect terrorist cells and explosives. The participants referred to that there is a need to establishment of a database to be used by the security bodies throughout the region to make it easy to conduct security investigation of the people in the region.

Some of the participants stressed the need to work on the points mentioned by Lieutenant Colonel Trad and to include his points in the outcomes of the workshop.

The Second Section: About the judiciary dealing with security issues under exceptional circumstances and Judicial Bodies contribution to increasing the level of security

As well as the role of the judiciary in preserving the public and personal freedoms and rights in presence of security threats.
Syrian Interim Government’s Justice Minister Mr. Mr. Abdullah Abdul Salam was invited to stage, he talked about the courts inside Syria (Liberated Areas), their structures and the adopted laws.
He said, Judicial deterrence alone is insufficient to curb terrorist operations or improve the security situation, especially since the judiciary currently is not able to punish with severe punishments, for example the death penalty for terrorists conducted terrorist operations and bombings among civilians, since the judiciary is not able to execute death penalty sentences, because execution of such sentence needs to be approved by the head of the political pyramid, which is unavailable for the region.

The absence of the death penalty in Europe and Turkey make it difficult to execute the death penalties in liberated regions in the north of Syria. The Minister stated that these difficulties will most possibly remain until there is a solution in Syria and the Syrian people, through their representatives and legal institutions decided if they wish the most severe (death) penalty or not.

Then the microphone is given to the Judge Mr. Hossam Shohnah (one of the Judge working in the regions’ courts), Mr. Hossam said that the security situation cannot be discussed without talking about human rights, since most dictatorships are based on laws of state of emergency, such dictatorial regimes use repression and curb freedoms under the pretext of the country’s security.
To preserve freedoms and human right and raise the awareness of the local population regarding them we should hold a special workshop on the judiciary and freedoms/human rights in light of the current security situation.
At the end of his speech, Mr. Hossam raised question inquiring the extent to which the police personal and bodies in the region are complied with Human Rights and freedoms Issues and stressed the importance of including human rights issues into the code of ethics of the police.
In response to the question of Judge Mr. Hossam, Lieutenant Colonel Trad, the representative of the Ministry of the Interior, said that the Ministry is paying special attention to human rights and therefore a human rights office was established recently within the ministry to deal with such issues.

The Third Section: The Role of the Local Councils and the Living Conditions in Light of the Current Security Situation. The impact of terrorist bombings and attacks on the living, economic and social situations in the region and the measures taken by the local councils

In this section we invited heads of 2 local Councils (Marea local Council and Al-Bab Local Council) to the Stage alongside to giving the chance to heads of 3 more local councils. The reason why we invited Head of Marea local Council and Head of Al-Bab Local Council to the stage is that Marea is facing the least security problems and terrorist attacks compared to the rest of the Local Councils and Al-Bab is facing the more security problems and terrorist attacks compared to the rest of the regions, we wanted to listen about the security problems directly from them and the measures they taken and the impact of those measures.
According to the study that we have prepared, we have seen that the most deteriorating cities in terms of the security situation (bombings and terrorist attacks) is Al-Bab.

Mr. Jamal Othman, the head of Al-Bab local council, talked about the bloody terrorist attacks /bombings that took place in the city especially the last bombing that killed and wounded dozens of civilians. He continued saying this negatively affects the living situations in the city where trade and urbanization ceased, Al-Bab is the biggest city in the region alongside to being the most densely populated city (150000 people living in the city center), 40% of the population of the city is composed Forcibly Displaced Peoples and that the majority of the traders in the northern countryside of Aleppo
are living in Al-Bab, so the city is being a target for terrorist bombings and attacks with aim of destabilizing the city and planting fear in its population.

As for the measures, Mr. Othman said that the local council took many measures to reduce this phenomenon the last of which is a project current being implemented in Al-Bab city to install high-tech security cameras in the main streets, axis and joints of the city, when the security cameras system is active the security forces will be able affectively monitor the city and criminals / perpetrators of terrorist acts will be identified and arrested.

The head of Marea Local Council Fuad Abbas was the second speaker in this section. One of the questions forwarded to him was ‘’Are there measures or circumstances that have contributed to making your city the most secure?’’ Since Marea is facing the least security issue and terrorist bombings. Mr. Fuad Abbas said that the good family, neighborhood and community relations in Marae city
contributed to reduction of security issues and terrorist bombing and attacks in the city. The families of the city do well know each other, so a terrorist cannot easily come to the city and plan an operation in one of its neighborhoods with out being observed by the families and the local community.
The second thing that contributed to the reduction of terrorist attacks / bombings is that all the main entrances of the city are being checked by 2 check points a police check point and a military check point so nobody is able to enter explosives to the city, said Mr. Fuad. He completed saying, the third thing is that third of the population of the city are composed of people who are forcibly displaced from different regions of Syria, but local council in cooperation with the
security / police forces worked to register and issue IDs for them after conducting security checks. He also mentioned that they are working to integrate the people who settled in the city after being
Forcibly Displaced from different regions of Syria and the local people in order to make the society as a
whole and to help everyone get to know each other .

The third speaker in this section was Mr. Abd Khalil who is the head of Jarablus Local Council. He said that the city has a large mixture of population, where the city’s indigenous population is less than a third. Previously (before the revolution) the city’s population was at around 25000 individuals but now its population is at around 70000. Regarding the measures taken by Jarablus local council to enhance the security situations and reduce the security issues and terrorist attacks / bombings, he talked about the process of registering and issuing IDs for indigenous population and IDPs in Jarablus region and the northern countryside of Aleppo in general and completed saying ”we believe that when the registration and ID issuance finishes it will have a major impact in raising the level of security in the region”.

The fourth speaker in this section was Mr. Radwan Al Shayhk who is the head of Bzaa Local Council. He talked importance of registering and issuing license plate for all vehicles (cars, motorcycles, agricultural vehicle, trucks military vehicles) in the region as the in majority of vehicle bombings,
terrorist attacks, kidnaps, thefts and other crimes, terrorist and criminals use vehicles. And continued saying that Bzaa Local Council recently started a campaign to register all the vehicles and issue license plates for them. Mr. Radwan completed saying, Bzaa is one of the most secure regions because it is under control of only one military faction which is Firqat Al-Hamzat and that there is a good level of coordination and cooperation between it and the polices / security forces in the region, this has reduced many security issues including the proliferation of weapon in Bzaa region’’.

Then a question directed to the head Qabasin Local Council Mr. Jouma Al-Isa, your city has the most diverse population in terms of nations (Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen) and there are a lot of Forcibly Displaced People living in it, has this increased the security problems and terrorist bombings? What will be the effects of the airstrikes that recently targeted oil refineries in the countryside of Qabasin?
Mr. Jouma Al-Isa responded saying, the terrorist attacks and bombings are not carried out by the indigenous population, those who carry out the terrorist bombings and attacks are either visitors or those who came to the region for the purpose of the bombing. And completed saying, the airstrikes that carried out by the regime aircrafts and targeted the oil refineries in the countryside of Qabasin last week will of course negatively affect the whole region not only Qabasin, Oil derivatives price will go up alongside to that many people in Qabasin region lost their income sources due to the destruction of oil refineries.

The Fourth Section: The role of military factions in reducing terrorist operations / attacks

(Vehicle Bombs – bombing / shelling, kidnaps, violations)
In this section Lt. Col. Mohammad Hamadeen, commander of the military police in Afrin, a military commander in the Third Corps, spoke:
He said that they formed the military police body to fight and prevent corruption and follow up on terrorist cases and mentioned that there are now six military police stations in the region 1 in each of the following residential areas Azaz, Al Bab, Jarablus, Afrin, Jindires and Rajo.
And continued saying that the military police in the region carried out many operations to fight an prevent corruption within the military factions and that there is unified database for all the military police stations in the region and using the mentioned database they are able to conduct security checks and detect / catch the wanted people. Lt. Col. Mohammad Hamadeen completed his speech saying that the military police will soon run a project to register and issue license plates for all the military vehicles,
parallelly to the efforts of the Local Councils regarding registering and licensing the civil vehicles, the aim is to register and license all the vehicles existing in the region. The other speaker in this section was the Colonel Shaher Ramo, he is a commander in Firqat Al-Hamza in his short speech he talked about the need for greater control on the borders and crossings with the regime and with areas under the control of SDF by military factions.

The Fifth Section: The impact of the Security Situations on the Civil Society Organizations and the Humanitarian Work

In this section Bahjat Hajjar the Executive Director of Local Administration Councils Unit (LACU) spoke :
He talked about the problems facing the Civil Society Organizations, and that the humanitarian workers and civil society organizations do not know who / which institution in each region can review their needs or facilitate their work. As well as considering the deterioration of the security situation and absence of a bodies concerned with CSOs and their protection makes Humanitarian Workers and CSOs rely on some of the bodies to protect their centers and warehouses. Another point that Mr. Bahjat has stressed during his speech was the registration of the civil society organizations is not organized through one single entity that can give them the eligibility to work in all the region, currently if a CSO registered in one of the cities or Local councils this doesn’t give it the right to work in other cities and local councils, as each local council has its own rules and lows regarding the work of CSOs and NGOs. This negatively affects the work of humanitarian workers and reduces their access to the whole region. Therefore, there is a need to organize the administrative work related to the CSOs and NGOs through a single Unified Entity .

The Second speaker in this section was the Executive Director of Omran for Strategic Studies Dr. Ammar Kahf, he talked about the security structure in the region. He asserted that the figures given in the presentation prepared by the Stabilization Committee are correct, he said we are sure because we have been working for two years now to collect information on bombings and terrorist attacks taking place in the region. He also said we should work to regulate relationship and strengthen coordination between the military, police and civilians through focused sessions on reference, governance, transparency, organization and administrative control.
And Finally, he referred to importance of establishment of centralized bodies to manage different issues in the region (local Council, CSOs, administrative issue, and of course security issues, fighting terrorism).

The workshop was concluded by Dr. Murad Aslan, Director KALmec (Kalyoncu Middle East Research Center), he said based on the interventions and discussions I have noted 6 main needs; (outcomes)
1- Conducting the necessary legal regulations to improve the security structure in the region
2- The need for institutionalization of all security bodies and formations
3- Administrative centralization must be adopted in security work
4- Setting standards for security bodies
5- Increase the capabilities of the security bodies in terms of equipment, technology and personal
6- Establish good coordination between the security institutions and build a communication infrastructure to ease the communication and coordination between them.

It is decided to hold more workshops where more concentrated discussions will be held to complete course.
He also stressed the need for a competent national intelligence services that would detect and stop terrorist acts before they occur.
The session was moderated and moderated by Mounzer Al-Sallal, head of the Stabilization Committee, he thanked the participants and rapped up the workshop.

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