Syria's Baath Party HQ in Suweida attacked after killing of protester

Syria's Baath Party HQ in Suweida attacked after killing of protester
The HQ of the Baath Party came under assault by an unknown group armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades after the killing of a protester in Suweida.
2 min read
29 February, 2024
Protests against Syria's ruling Assad regime in Suweida erupted last year and spread to other parts of the country [Getty]

Unidentified assailants targeted the headquarters of Syria's ruling Baath Party in Suweida through a series of attacks with rocket-propelled grenades and bursts of gunfire, according to a video shared by local media outlet Suwayda 24.

One of the strongest attacks targeted Regiment 44, belonging to the regime’s army, located between Suweida and the town of Qanawat, with a large explosion being seen and heard by witnesses on the ground. 

The group also targeted security headquarters, intelligence centers and another army sit, hours after the killing of a protester by the Syrian regime’s security forces.

Protests in Suweida province, the heartland of Syria's Druze minority, began after President Bashar al-Assad's government ended fuel subsidies in August last year.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said dozens of people were chanting anti-government slogans in front of a recently reopened state office building that deals with citizens' affairs such as outstanding military service.

"Pro-government forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd, wounding two protesters, one of whom later died," said the Britain-based monitor, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria.

The 54-year-old man was the first person "killed by pro-government forces since the start of demonstrations" in Suweida, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

The Suwayda24 media outlet, run by citizen journalists, also said a protester had been shot dead.

The news website shared video footage showing dozens of peaceful, unarmed protesters gathered around a government building.

Moments later, gunshots are heard and a bleeding man is seen being helped away by other protesters.

Following the violence, local religious authorities urged all sides to "keep the demonstrations peaceful," according to the Observatory and Suwayda24.

Suweida has been mostly spared the fighting during Syria's conflict, and has faced only sporadic jihadist attacks, which were repelled.

The Assad regime's security services have a limited presence in the province where Damascus has turned a blind eye to tens of thousands of Druze men refusing to undertake compulsory military service.

But protests against deteriorating economic conditions have occasionally erupted in the province in recent years.

Syria's war has claimed the lives of more than half a million people and displaced millions since it broke out in March 2011 with Damascus's brutal repression of anti-government protests.