DAMASCUS, March 26 (Xinhua) -- At least 100 people suspected of impersonating Syrian government security agents are currently facing kidnapping charges, Syrian Attorney General Ziad al- Hollaibi said on Wednesday.
In a press statement, Hollaibi said that there will be "no tolerance for those who attack and harm citizens."
He unveiled a number of cases in which the defendants were suspected to have impersonated security officials or members of the paramilitary National Defense Forces to kidnap citizens by pretending to arrest them, particularly in the Damascus' suburb of Qudsayya.
The attorney general stressed the need for stricter enforcement of laws, noting that there should be no tolerance for "these dangerous gangs" especially those "impersonating" military figures and committing illegal acts.
He added that impersonating any citizen, either civilians or security officers, and seizing personal belongings, are considered offenses that are equal to armed robbery and should be punished. Syria's penalty law says these criminals can be sentenced to up to 12 years in jail with hard labor.
Syria's capital is witnessing an increasing number of kidnappings, but most of the cases were not reported as people were afraid of reprisal.
Al-Hollaibi confirmed that the number of cases reported reached nearly 100, in which the criminals were usually dressed in security agent attire to kidnap their victims.
The attorney added that the Syrian judiciary would not tolerate "corrupt members" of the National Defense Forces if it is discovered to have committed illegal acts.
"It is a natural thing for the (Syrian) crisis to generate such dangerous phenomena in our society, including looting and impersonation, in addition to the various phenomena that are alien to our society and aim to disintegrate the Syrian society and disseminate crimes in this safe community," he said.
Al-Hollaibi urged media outlets to publish judicial decisions, particularly the criminal provisions relating to crimes of theft, looting and murder to educate the public, saying it might contribute in reducing crime.
Kidnapping, rare in Syria in the past, has turned into a growing phenomenon as the country grapples with a three-year-old civil war that has left more than 140,000 dead and millions displaced.
On average, three cases of kidnapping occur in Syria on a daily basis, according to a recent report by the pro-government al-Watan newspaper.
Over the past few months, about 1,500 cases were reported in the northern city of Aleppo, 3,000 cases in the city's countryside, and another 150 cases in the capital Damascus and its countryside.
There had been 60 cases of abduction in the province of Daraa, while Homs province recorded nearly 220 cases.
The kidnappings have escalated and now abductees include women, children, and even the elderly.
The worsening situation has prompted the Syrian leadership to issue a presidential decree, declaring that the abduction of people, for whatever reason, is subject to death penalty if the kidnappers maim, sexually abuse or kill their captives. Even those who do not harm their victims will be given a life sentence of penal labor.