Locals in Syria’s Suwayda pin hopes on last peace effort   

SUWAYDA, Syria (North Press) – Unprecedented clashes erupted early in the week in Suwayda Governorate, southern Syria, between local armed groups and the Syrian government forces, as these skirmishes involved using rifles and besieging the government checkpoints in the area.   

The clashes began after the locals protested the establishment of new security checkpoint by the government forces near al-Anqoud Roundabout in the city of Suwayda.

The confrontations resulted in the injury of a militant of an armed local group and several security personnel of the government forces.

A local source in an armed local group told North Press that they (the group) had given the government forces a new deadline to remove the checkpoint of the al-Anqoud Roundabout.

The source added that the truce was reached after mediation by local residents to give the government personnel of the checkpoint an opportunity to withdraw and to abandon establishing further checkpoints within Suwayda.

The recent clashes that took place on June 23 resulted in casualties among the government forces that were stationed in Ba’ath Party headquarters, as the armed groups targeted the headquarters using shells. 

North Press obtained classified information indicates that the government’s intention of installing checkpoint of the al-Anqoud Roundabout was to pursue “wanted individuals” and opponents of the government forces in the area.

The website of Presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic reported that seven members of the government forces were killed in clashes with armed groups in Suwayda, a claim denied by Suwayda residents.

The government forces accused Suwayda protestors of being directed and incited by external parties against them, denying the legitimacy of their demands despite their nearly year-long protests for better living conditions and toppling “Assad regime.”  

Sheikh Suleiman Abdulbaki, leader of the Free Jabal al-Arab Gathering, a local armed group, accused the government forces of bringing in Iranian militants, according to information obtained by the group.

The group also stated that they (the local group) partially withdraw from the areas and they are awaiting the outcome of the given new deadline.

The leader of the group emphasized that they had put on the table all the possible peaceful solutions to avoid militarization and further escalation aiming to remove the aforementioned checkpoint which is considered by local people as the beginning of a besiege by the government forces and the Iranian-backed militias.

May 16, 2024, U.S. Department of State called for Syrian government to refrain from attacking protests in Suwayda Governorate, southern Syria.

By Saad al-Yaziji