'Syria wants freedom': Suweida protests enter 32nd day amid calls for Assad to step down

'Syria wants freedom': Suweida protests enter 32nd day amid calls for Assad to step down
Regime-held Suweida has witnessed ongoing anti-Assad protests for over a month, as living standards deteriorate and prices rise.
2 min read
21 September, 2023
Anti-regime protests in Suweida have been going on for over a month [Getty]

Anti-regime protests in Syria’s southern city of Suweida entered their 32nd day on Thursday, with crowds coming from surrounding towns and villages.

Protesters gathered in the Karama Square in Suweida city centre calling for a political transition in Syria based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which the Assad regime has rejected. 

Sources close to Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri, a popular spiritual leader of the Druze community who has encouraged the protests, told The New Arab's Arabic language site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that many Syrians from outside Suweida had visited his residence in the town of Qanawat to voice solidarity with the demonstrations.

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Activist Salam Abbas told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: “The regime is striving hard to thwart and discredit any figure that supports the protests," adding that the regime also feared that protests would expand, potentially to other Syrian provinces.

In videos shared on the Suwayda 24 Facebook page, dozens of people can been seen waving banners showing loyalty to the Druze sect and chanting slogans describing President Bashar al-Assad and his ruling establishment as a "gang of thieves", and chanting "Syria wants freedom".

Protesters also held up slogans and banners in various languages, including Chinese as Assad and his wife Asma were visiting China on Thursday to attend the opening of the Asian Games.

Pro-regime media however, continued their negative coverage of the Suweida protests, saying that there could be armed attacks on checkpoints in the city, according to a report by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed

Activist Munif Rashid told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that new people were joining the protests every day. He emphasised the presence of "intellectuals and lawyers" as well as women in the rallies.

"The number of protesters continue to increase every day," he said, adding "This gives further momentum and strength to the protests."

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The protests spread in Druze-majority Suweida following a sharp deterioration in living conditions and price hikes

Sporadic protests have also taken place elsewhere in Syria.

They have brought back memories of the 2011 peaceful protests against the Syrian regime, which were brutally suppressed and led to Syria's current conflict.