Just the mention of the word would send shivers down the spine of Syrians: “mukhabarat”, or secret police.
Abuses by President Bashar al-Assad’s feared security units were among the reasons Syrians took to the streets in March 2011, leading to an uprising that has become a civil war.
But now some of the rebels fighting Assad say they have set up a mukhabarat of their own to “protect the revolution”, monitor sensitive military sites and gather military information to help rebels plan attacks against government forces.
“We formally formed the unit in November. It provides all kind of information to (opposition) politicians and fighters. We are independent and just serve the revolution,” said a rebel intelligence officer who goes under the name Haji.
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