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…

However, the organization appears to operate independently from the main opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army, effectively answering to itself.

Haji was careful to distinguish between its methods and those of the secret police under Assad, saying he was aware of the feared reputation of the government’s internal spy services.