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Anti-Syrian government revolutionary action re-emerges in Daraa

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Editing: Amena Riyad |
TranslationEditor: Vera Halvorsen |
Translation: Muhammad Ghaith
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Publication date: 2018/12/30 12:00

Daraa - SMART

Anti-Syrian government revolutionary action re-emerges in cities and towns in the Daraa governorate, Southern Syria, six months after the Syrian government forces and allies seized control of the area following Russian-supervised agreements with opposition military factions. The agreements stated the displacement of those who refused to reconcile with the Syrian government to Northern Syria.

Protesters rip apart photos of Assad and write slogans against Syrian government

On December 22, 2018, protesters ripped apart photos of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after his supporters hung it on the municipality building in the town of Nahita. Demonstrators took to streets in the cities of Daraa and Busra al-Sham to protest the arrests of dozens of young men from Daraa despite possessing so-called settlement documents, which are supposed to ensure the right to continue work or studies without mandatory army service. The agreements between the Syrian government and opposition factions prevented the arrest of those who obtained settlement documents and refused to evacuate to Northern Syria.

Unknown people recently wrote slogans against the Syrian government on the walls of governmental buildings, schools, shops, and public buildings in the cities of Daraa, al-Harak, Nawa, and Jasim, the village of al-Mata’iyah, and the Daraa al-Balad neighborhood. The slogans read, “Down with Assad,” “Down with the al-Baath Party,” “Our revolution will continue,” “Eight years of bleeding ends in a failed settlement,” and “No to arrests.”

Protests return Daraa in peaceful action against Syrian government

The activist Malek Khatab, who was forcibly displaced from Daraa to Northern Syria, said that the peaceful revolutionary action has re-emerged in Daraa. Khatab added that the activists who reconciled with the Syrian government and remained in Daraa still reject the Syrian government’s role because they have not forgotten the barrel bombs that the Syrian government forces’ helicopters dropped on Daraa, killing thousands of civilians. Khatab said that the activists have also not forgotten the detainees whose fate remains unknown so far.

Khatab added, “Writing slogans on walls in Daraa is individual disorganized work (...) Activists are likely to raise the flag of the Syrian Revolution  in Daraa in the coming days like what happened in the Daraa al-Balad neighborhood a week ago.”

Ali al-Salkhadi, the former head of the Daraa Governorate Council, who lives in Turkey, and Zuheir Abu al-Sul, the former commander of the Ansar al-Haqq Brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), said that the new anti-Syrian government protests and slogans are a “common result” of the Syrian government’s practices.

Abu al-Sul expressed happiness at the return of the protests, saying that it is a “pattern” that revives the revolution. Al-Salkhadi added that the protests may be a start to reorganize the revolutionary action in Daraa.

Issmat al-’Absi, the former head of the High Judicial Council in Houran, who was forcibly displaced to Northern Syria, said that the anti-Syrian government protests and slogans express the “flame” of the Revolution that the people of Daraa are still committed to.

Deteriorating situation and arrests fuel anti-Syrian government protests

Former local officials in Daraa said that the Syrian government has not responded to the protests that re-emerged due to the presence of the Russian forces whose responsibility is to implement the agreement in the area.

Al-’Absi said, “The young men of Daraa tasted freedom in the years of the revolution and they are unable to accept the humiliation and slavery that the Syrian government forces attempt to impose on them.”

Al-Absi added, “Some of the young men felt that they had only two options; either join the Syrian government forces or fight for the sake of the freedom they revolted for. They  preferred the second option.”

Al-Salkhadi added that writing the anti-Syrian government slogans after it seized control of Daraa is a result of the Syrian government forces’ practices and arresting low-income young men for compulsory and reservist recruitment. Al-Salkhadi said that the young men’s families depend on them to make living.

Abu al-Sul said that the Syrian government has become weak and attempts to deal with the  protesters in a different and friendly manner to keep its supporters.

Abu al-Sul noted that it is not in the Syrian government’s interests to fuel the situation in Daraa or respond to the protesters in a violent way due to the presence of the Russian forces.

Khatab said that the Syrian government refrains from responding to the protests in an attempt to deceive activists and former FSA fighters and make them feel that the Syrian government gives them freedom and democracy instead of imprisoning, prosecuting, or killing them.

On March 18, 2011, the first demonstration against the Syrian government took place in Daraa. The demonstration was named the “Friday of Dignity.” The demonstrators demanded the dismissal of the governor of Daraa and chief of the Syrian government’s Political Security Branch, and the release of detainees, including children. Members of the security services fired at the demonstrators, killing the first two victims of the Syrian Revolution. Protests against the Syrian government continued for years; however, displacement agreements, or “settlement agreements” marked the end of the protests.