Source: NOW. (Gunfight between pro-regime forces rocks Hama)
Security forces cut roads leading to central Hama’s Orontes Square when militiamen battled local regime security.
A clash reportedly erupted over the weekend in Hama between members of a pro-Assad militia and local security forces, the first fight of its kind to hit the firmly regime-controlled central Syrian city.
A media activist told the pro-rebel All4Syria outlet that militiamen affiliated with Syria’s feared Air Force Intelligence had engaged in a shootout with regime forces in the center of the city after a heated verbal exchange.
The activist, who goes by the pseudonym “Abu Talib,” claimed that the fight began Saturday when a militiamen from Qamhana—a town six kilometers north of Hama—had “photographed girls without their knowledge in Umm al-Hassan Park near Orontes Square.”
The militant’s actions angered regime force security members in the old Baath Party building opposite the main door of the park, the activist said, adding that a fiery argument between the parties quickly escalated into a gunfight.
“Abu Talib” further claimed that other militiamen from the town of Qamhana rushed to support their colleague, with clashes continuing intermittently in the downtown Hama area for “several hours.”
“Regime forces cut off all roads leading to Orontes Square,” the source said, adding that the heightened security measures were lifted after the militiamen from Qamhana offered an apology following an emergency meeting between security chiefs.
Meanwhile, the pro-rebel Ennab Baladi outlet ran a similar report, citingeyewitnesses as saying that a firefight erupted at around 3 p.m. Saturday between militiamen from Qamhana and regime security forces in Orontes Square.
An activist also told the site that the fight began after one of the militiamen took pictures of girls without their permission, leading to a clash between military security and the gunmen from Qamhana.
The Hama fight is the latest in a series of incidents between security forces and pro-regime militias, which have under intense scrutiny in recent weeks.
In April, unprecedented fighting erupted between regime troops and National Defense Force members in an Alawite quarter of central Homs, according to press reports and activist statements.
Most of the security incidents, however, have taken place along the Syrian regime’s coastal heartland, specifically the Tartous region.
In the latest one to raise the ire of residents of pro-Assad areas, a local NDF unit in the Tartous town of Dreikish attacked police officers on September 21, leaving two dead.
Two months earlier, members of a local National Defense Force militia opened fire on residents of the Tartous town of Safita, which is populated by a nearly equal mix of Greek Orthodox and Alawites approximately 20 kilometers southeast of Tartous.
Only a week before the Saifta shooting, four Christian men were kidnapped from the nearby town Khreibat by unknown gunmen, sparking tension among the town’s residents.