Syria passes law allowing 'remote area' residents to carry military rifles, despite crime rate
The Syrian parliament passed a law on Thursday allowing people in remote areas to carry military rifles, despite a sharp increase in crimes happening in regime-controlled areas.
Residents living in regime-held, remote parts of Syria will be able to obtain a license from the interior ministry within nine months of the law going into effect, which will grant them the right to possess one military rifle, according to state-run news agency SANA.
The license will be valid for ten years.
Individuals are not allowed to carry the weapons in more densely populated areas and residential gatherings and will be required to hand the rifles over and their license revoked if they no longer live in a remote area, reported SANA.
Chaos has ensued in Syria since the conflict started there nearly 12 years ago. Kidnappings, homicide, drug use and other illegal activities have become rife, and the use of weapons has become widespread.
Regime-controlled areas – which now make up the majority of Syrian territory due to support from Russia and Iran – have seen a sharp spike in crimes, with five murders in the past week.
These crimes counted are separate to alleged war crimes committed.
The conflict is believed to have killed over half a million people and displaced around half of Syria’s pre-war population.
Syrian lawyer Faisal Al-Saeed is sceptical of the new law.
"Since 2011, weapons have spread widely in Syria, especially in the hands of militia members loyal to the regime in their homes, and most people possess weapons without a license," he told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, in an interview.
"In light of the regime's inability to collect these weapons, and its lack of intention to do so, the aim seems to be to legitimise them and collect revenues."
Al-Saeed believes Syria is not in need of licensing the acquisition of weapons in light of the high crime rate and the inability of police and other security forces to control the situation.
He also said the term "remote areas" was too vague and required clarification to specify which residents will be able to obtain these licenses.
"Does everyone in these areas have the right to own weapons, or only for specific groups?" he asked.