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Kidnapping, bombs more common now

Foreigners thinking of joining the conflict in Syria are likely to face a new threat - kidnapping.

That is according to a report last year by defence consultancy IHS Jane's.

The threat of kidnapping has risen substantially since the beginning of the civil war in 2011.

Insurgent groups and pro-government militia are resorting to kidnapping-for-ransom to fund their activities.

They also use it to facilitate prisoner exchanges with rival groups.

According to an IHS report in September, "pro-government militias' pay had been cut, increasing the likelihood that they will turn to kidnapping".

IHS is a global information company with expertise in areas including geopolitical risk.

Opposition supporters had kidnapped Iranian workers who were, they claimed, helping government forces.

The IHS report stated that opposition supporters are likely to target individuals from Lebanon, Russia, China and Venezuela, due to their governments' support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Even civilians have not been spared.

Reports have suggested that 120 Kurds have been kidnapped by rebel groups linked to terror group Al-Qaeda. Their status is not known.

Besides kidnapping, new threats have emerged, with both sides turning to larger and more sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

According to a US State Department report dated April 10, jihadist groups have demonstrated sophisticated IED capability, using multiple bombs in concert with personal arms and mortars to attack security forces.

The rebels, whose ranks increasingly include militants with fighting experience in Iraq, are using more sophisticated and better coordinated IEDs.

They are also using heavier weaponry captured from government forces to attack government buildings and energy, water and transportation infrastructure in government-held territory.

LIKELY TARGETS

The IHS Jane's report stated that pro-government and Christian neighbourhoods are likely targets.

Civilian airports, many of which are being used by the military, are also likely to be attacked with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Vehicle-borne IEDs will probably be used to break through perimeter defences in urban centres, followed by larger devices to inflict maximum damage and casualties.

IHS sources report that government and opposition supporters are targeting one another's commercial assets and activities, such as shops, factories and commercial vehicles, by engaging in shootings, IED attacks, looting and arson.