Iraq News

Sweida situation worsens amid shortages, reprisals

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo


Drivers queue for gasoline in the southern Syria province of Sweida, where there have been acute fuel shortages. [Photo courtesy of El-Dorar al-Shamiya website]

Sweida residents have expressed alarm as conditions continue to worsen in the southern Syrian province, blaming this on regime neglect and reprisals, rampant lawlessness and an associated rise in crime, a local activist said.

Tensions have been running high in several parts of the province, especially the city of Sweida and its environs, Sweida activist Nizar Bou Ali told Diyaruna.

Local residents are angry at the way the province has been treated in terms of basic services and security, he said, and at the Syrian regime's breach of reconciliation agreements that were struck in former opposition areas.

The recently announced deaths of Ruslan Abdul Karim Abu Saab and Sari Abdul Karim Abu Saab, two brothers from the village of Bard in southern rural Sweida, have stoked up existing tensions in the province, Bou Ali said.

The two men, who had fought with the Free Syrian Army, an opposition alliance, had turned themselves in to Syrian regime forces in Daraa after the signing of reconciliation agreements with the regime.

The Russia-brokered agreements offered amnesty to former opposition fighters who agreed to end their anti-regime activities, but have been widely disregarded by the Syrian regime.

"The death of the two brothers was revealed by chance when another brother applied for identification documents and learned in the process that the two men had been dead for six months," Bou Ali said.

The family had not been informed of their deaths, and the regime had not released their bodies, which fueled suspicions that they had been tortured.

Food, fuel shortages

Meanwhile, the overall situation in the province is deteriorating, Bou Ali said, noting that there have been long queues for gasoline and domestic gas amid an acute shortage of these items.

Bread is also scarce in the markets, he said, and Sweida residents complain of its poor quality, and several other basic food items also are in very short supply.

Moreover, lawlessness is rampant, with widespread cases of theft, kidnap for ransom and killings, he said, pointing out that Syrian regime forces have not intervened in these matters, fueling speculation that they are complicit.

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