File - The shutters of shops are seen painted with the colours of the Syrian national flag at al-Bzoria market in Damascus February 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri)
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During a recent meeting of Damascene merchants, talk turned to the case of a colleague detained by Syria's powerful and dreaded state security apparatus.While it is hard to verify the specific case, the discussion demonstrates the climate of fear and intimidation prevalent in the capital three years into the revolt.For some time after the uprising erupted in the southern city of Deraa on March 18, 2011, it looked like the revolt would shatter the barriers of fear that long defined the relationship between Syria's police state and its citizens. Nowadays, in government-controlled areas of Damascus that is far from the case. At gas stations, a "security ID" issued for military, state security or other official business will get you to the front of the line, as well as into a specially reserved "military lane" at the checkpoints that have proliferated throughout the city.
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