Photo Gallery The True Power-Holders in Syria

Bashar Assad's power over those areas of Syria under government control is slipping. Armed militias are growing stronger and the country's dictator can do nothing to stop them.
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Mohamed Jaber is the leader of the Desert Hawks militia, which is based in Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar Assad's Alawites. Militia's such as Jaber's move in to secure areas reconquered by foreign mercenaries. Plundering is often the result.

Foto: Christian Werner / DER SPIEGEL
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Jaber maintains a weapons factory on the outskirts of Latakia, where he also keeps military vehicles belonging to his militia. Most of Jaber's significant wealth comes from smuggling.

Foto: Christian Werner / DER SPIEGEL
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Members of the Tiger Forces militia guard the entrance to the citadel of Aleppo. Many in the eastern part of the city, which was just reconqured by the Syrian government in December, complain of looting and violence perpetrated by the militia members.

Foto: Christian Werner / DER SPIEGEL
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A portrait of Hafez al-Assad on the back window of a car near Hama. Assad no longer has the power to rein in the militias, in part because the official Syrian military is in such poor shape.

Foto: Christian Werner / DER SPIEGEL
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Some residents have returned to eastern Aleppo, which has been almost completely destroyed by the war. Looting by militias has made the situation there even worse.

Foto: Christian Werner / DER SPIEGEL