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Protests Continue for Second Day in Syria’s Sweida

Sweida, a governorate in southern Syria, has witnessed a second consecutive day of a general strike and civil disobedience, with over 20 protests taking place. On Monday, authorities closed off routes into and out of the city of Sweida, and various government offices and institutions, including the ruling Baath Party building, were shut down. The protests initially began in response to the rising prices of food and goods, as well as the Syrian government’s decision to increase fuel . However, some demonstrators also called for the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to local media sources, over 42 protests occurred across Sweida governorate. The protesters voiced their frustration with the economic decline, the prevailing chaos in the country, and the widespread corruption within state institutions. They emphasized that these issues exist at all levels, from the presidency to the smallest government department. The unrest reflects the sentiment that the current government has consolidated resources within the hands of a select few, similar to the approach of President al-Assad’s father and predecessor, Hafez.

The Syrian government has yet to comment on the rare protests. Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri, the spiritual leader of the unified Druze sect, expressed concern about the country’s economic situation and called for action to achieve change and . Sweida, where the majority of residents belong to the Druze minority group, has historically been controlled by the government. However, anti-government protests have occurred in the region, notably in 2020.

While the focus of the is primarily on economic issues, many protesters also demanded political changes. Detainee , the high of living, lack of access to medicine, and the absence of reliable and water were among the grievances expressed by the demonstrators. They accused President al-Assad’s government of attempting to divide the Syrian people and allowing foreign entities to benefit from the country’s resources while neglecting its citizens.

The neighboring governorate of Daraa, which was previously held by opposition forces before being recaptured by the government in 2018, has also experienced recent protests. Demonstrators gathered in front of the historic Umayyad Mosque in Daraa city to raise the flag of the Syrian revolution and demand the release of detainees and the overthrow of the al-Assad government. Daraa was the birthplace of the Syrian revolution and saw opposition factions gaining control in its early stages in 2011.

Despite opposition groups losing control of most of Syria to government forces and their Russian and Iranian allies, dissent has persisted in government-controlled regions. The government has shown little tolerance for criticism, and while a settlement agreement was reached in Daraa under Russian supervision, opposition supporters highlight that a has continued in the governorate. They claim that of activists, security crackdowns, extortion at government checkpoints, shelling of cities and villages, and widespread arrests still occur under al-Assad’s regime.

Demonstrators in Daraa express solidarity with the protests in Sweida and call upon people in other Syrian provinces to rise up against the government once again. They firmly believe that the fall of the regime is necessary for improved living conditions, a loosening of the security grip, and a peaceful existence in their country.

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