Two dead as Syrian regime forces open fire on anti-government protests
Authorities targeted dozens of demonstrators who stormed the governorate building in the city of Suweida and chanted slogans including "the people want the fall of the regime", Syrian activists and journalists said.
The two killed in the violence were a police officer and a protester, the Associated Press reported, while seven others were injured.
As a Druze-majority city, Suweida has mostly been able to avoid the horrors of Syria’s ongoing civil war, which began in 2011 and has seen over 500,000 people die - largely at the hands of President Bashar al-Assad's forces and ally Russia.
However, it has seen periodic unrest, including anti-corruption protests, in recent years.
The demonstrators lowered the flag of the Assad regime and smashed a picture of Bashar al-Assad. They also took control of a military vehicle in the vicinity of the Saraya building. pic.twitter.com/v0aqjcgdd6— Fared Al Mahlool | فريد المحلول (@FARED_ALHOR) December 4, 2022
In Sunday's protests, the flag of the regime was lowered, pictures of Assad smashed, and a military vehicle seized.
Protesters also set tires on fire and blocked the Damascus–Suweida highway, local journalist Fared Al-Mahlool reported local sources as saying.
Syria: this is how Assad's forces reacted today to Suwayda protests, doing the only thing they are experts in: firing at civilians. One protestor dead and several wounded. pic.twitter.com/W7gBCClrPX— QalaatM (@QalaatM) December 4, 2022
The Syrian Interior Minister in a statement said that the people who raided the building were armed, and destroyed furniture, smashed windows, and looted files.
A police officer was killed after protesters attacked a police station, the statement said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lost huge swathes of Syria following an armed uprising after his government's brutal repression of peaceful protesters in 2011. However, following the Russian intervention in 2015, the regime regained control over much of the country.
According to UN figures, the war has caused the greatest refugee crisis in the world, with at least 5.5 million people fleeing the country and more than 6 million more displaced inside Syria.