Protests continue in Syria’s Suweida province as shots fired
Local news service Suweida 24 shared footage of Bashar Al-Assad's security forces firing shots into the air at a checkpoint in Shahba, north of the province, on Monday afternoon in an attempt to disperse protesters.
مراسل السويداء 24: إطلاق نار بالهواء من قوى الأمن المتواجدة على حاجز شهبا، شمالي السويداء، في أثناء محاولة بعض الشباب إزالة صورة الأسد في مدخل المدينة، الواقعة بالقرب من الحاجز. pic.twitter.com/74R4s0ZaM6— السويداء 24 (@suwayda24) August 28, 2023
Later that day, at Karama Square in Suweida city, hundreds of protesters, many of them carrying the flags of the Druze sect, gathered and chanted slogans reminiscent of the Syrian uprising of 2011.
These included calls by protesters such as "Long live Syria and may Bashar Al-Assad fall", while photos of Syrian national heroes, such as Youssef Al-Azmeh and Sultan Al-Atrash, who fought French colonialism in the 1920s, were displayed.
Protests in the province have been ongoing for more than a week, driven by economic hardship and rising prices.
Some of the protesters - who came from across Suweida province - called for an international trial for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, describing him as "the criminal of the barrel bombs, sarin gas, and captagon". This refers to the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs by the Assad regime throughout the war - which began in 2011 - killing tens of thousands of civilians.
The Assad regime is widely considered to be responsible for the spread of the illicit amphetamine captagon throughout the Middle East.
Protests in Suweida against the Assad regime have taken place sporadically since 2011 but the province, which has a measure of de facto autonomy, has been spared much of destruction wreaked on the rest of Syria.
One activist in Suweida, Sari Ahmed, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: "Suweida today speaks of the situation of all Syrians."
He said the protests won't end until Bashar al-Assad leaves office and UN resolution 2254, which calls for a political transition in Syria, is implemented.
The protests in the province spread last week to neighbouring Daraa province, a former opposition stronghold, and regime-held Aleppo, following the collapse of the Syrian economy and harsh repression by security forces.
Protests in solidarity with Suweida have also taken place in rebel-held Idlib province.