“I was threatened and one of my friends was killed because he was a judge in a military court,” Ghazal said. “The people who are against the government say we live in a dictatorship, but they are worse. Not all Alawites support Bashar, but they have become a symbol of the government.”
Zabadani, with a population of around 20,000, was briefly out of the Syrian government’s control before a military campaign here in February drove out armed rebels. But the anti-government graffiti and posters in the center of town suggested the threat was far from gone. The military’s checkpoints, some hastily rebranded as “police” checkpoints in order to comply with a United Nations-sponsored peace plan, were on the outskirts of the city but not inside, creating what some residents described as a sense of siege.
“The farmers can’t go to their fields,” said 40-year-old Mohammed al Dinnawi, who said he had lost his job at a government office in Damascus. “I haven’t left Zabadani in seven months because I am afraid I will be arrested at one of the checkpoints _ there are wanted people with the same last name.”
In the nearby town of Madiya, residents said the Free Syrian Army, the name taken by most of the loosely organized and lightly armed rebel groups, had brokered a deal with the army to keep checkpoints outside of the town’s center.
Syrian soldiers in Madiya said a checkpoint had been attacked on Saturday. Residents in Madiya, who chanted anti-government slogans as United Nations monitors passed through the town, said the military had continued to arrest those suspected of anti-government activities, another apparent violation of the cease-fire plan.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 21 people were by the Syrian military and security forces across the country on Saturday. SANA, the Syrian government news agency reported that seven members of the army and police killed by rebels in the cities of Idlib, Lattakia, and Aleppo were buried on Thursday, but did not say when they had been killed.
According the London-based Observatory, which has kept the most detailed casualty records since the uprising began, more than 11,000 people, the majority civilians, have been killed since March 2011.
Enders is a McClatchy Special Correspondent.