[Publisher's introduction: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi]: The town of al-Bab is located east of Aleppo city and is currently part of the 'Euphrates Shield' zone in north Aleppo countryside controlled by factions of the 'Syrian National Army' backed by Turkey. Previously the town was controlled by the Islamic State. However, there are increasing concerns about the bad security situation in al-Bab, with multiple assassinations and assassination attempts during the past few months. In this guest post for my site, Abd al-Qadir Abu Yusuf, who works with the Azaz Media Office, writes on the bad security situation in al-Bab and the shortcoming of the security forces there.
By Abd al-Qadir Abu Yusuf
At the beginning of the new year 2021 the level of kidnapping and assassination in the town of al-Bab east of Aleppo has escalated: a warning sign of a danger threatening the security of the area.
The threats began during the last quarter of 2020 through a series of operations of killing and kidnapping, which have included media people, real estate businessmen and various contingents of society. The most prominent of them was the assassination of the media guy Hussein al-Khattab and the attempt to assassinate the media guy Baha al-Halabi in front of his house on 6th January of this year and the assassination of the real-estate businessman Taha al-Na'asani four days ago.
Activists say that confining the accusation for those operations to the Dawla organisation- Da'esh- may conceal many of the lines of evidence and exonerate many of those behind them, as they accuse the forces of the police and National Army of shortcoming in protecting the security of the town.
While the Dawla organisation- Da'esh- has claimed some of those operations among them the assassination of the lieutenant Hussein al-Jabali on 18th November 2020 and exploding IEDs ten days before it, the organisation has not claimed the other operations that have included media people and have taken the form of attacks with weapons directly.
And activists and unions and media and human rights networks have issued statements of condemnation of those operations. In their statements they have requested the al-Bab police and its security apparatuses to launch a wide-spread security campaign to control the cells and close the town in terms of security, in particular the camps located in the town's periphery, which have become a breeding ground for the amni cells. They are also directing accusations against the police and National Army that they have fallen short in protecting the citizens and journalists in it.
For their part the security and military apparatuses have not undertaken their natural roles, following the operations that have become repeated in the middle of the day, with the exception of a military display that was done by the al-Hamza Division one day after the assassination of the media guy al-Khattab, which ended after two days without carrying out any of the things required.
And amid those challenges, the journalists have become afraid of operating freely in the town, especially for the lack of ability of the security apparatuses to define those responsible for those operations, warning of the 'brittle' security work, which may lead to the spread of the phenomenon of assassination and kidnapping to other areas like Azaz and Jarabulus.
And in light of those operations, al-Bab town has become in a sensitive state, as the town has hardly got out of the state of worry and fear that was caused by a post of Mustafa Sejari, who warned of military work that the Assad regime was preparing against the town, such that the state of fear has become a reality varied in its content through the repeated security operations, which may make the town similar to a continual Iraqi experience for the past 15 years