The sources said the insurgents have formed death squads that follow and
eliminate Syrian officers. They said most of these insurgents were trained
by Al Qaida-aligned elements in Iraq and financed by Saudi Arabia, Middle East Newsline reported.
The emergence of the Islamic hit squads took place in April about a
month after the Assad regime began the crackdown on the growing protest
movement. The sources said insurgents, equipped with weapons and
night-vision systems, began to ambush Syrian security patrols as well as
individual officers on the highways in the northeast. In all, about 400
Syrian security personnel were said to have been killed.
At first, the opposition to Assad denied the emergence of the Islamic
hit squads. Instead, opposition groups claimed that the casualties from the
purported Islamic attacks were soldiers shot dead after they refused orders
to fire toward protesters.
By July, however, opposition sources acknowledged that Islamic
insurgency squads were operating around such cities as Banias, Dura, Hama
and Homs. One of the bloodiest operations was the killing of nine Syrian
Army soldiers in Banias on April 14. The soldiers were traveling in two
trucks ambushed along the coastal highway.
The sources said the Islamic insurgents did not represent the
pro-democracy opposition movement. But they said the insurgents were
receiving support from Syria's Sunni majority, the main target of the Assad
crackdown in which more than 2,000 civilians have been killed since March.
The biggest targets of the Islamic insurgents were said to be the
Alawite-dominated Shabiha militia. Shabiha was said to have been responsible
for most of the civilian killings of Sunnis.
"The regime has been very careful to keep all of its officers together
on bases so they are not exposed to assassination," the source said. "But
this is difficult as both the army and security forces are needed to stop
the protests in more and more cities."