Late on March 26, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) killed four local gunmen and injured three others in the southeastern governorate of al-Suwayda.
The incident took place near the town of Sad al-Ain in the southeastern al-Suwayda countryside. The four gunmen were members of a local Druze armed group known as Orman Muftah al-Haraib. The slain gunmen were identified as Sanad Rashid, Nasir Rizq, Mazin Nasr and Zuqan al-Dubisi.
In a statement, the group claimed that its gunmen were targeted at an army checkpoint near Sad al-Ain for no reason. The group, which has no clear political affiliation, called the incident a “criminal act.”
“This cowardly act by the checkpoint proves that this checkpoint and its personnel have bad intentions towards this [Druze] Mount and its men … The blood of our men will not go to waste,” the group’s statement reads.
The group’s claims were denied by pro-government sources, which revealed that the gunmen attacked the Sad al-Ain checkpoint. The gunmen opened fire at the checkpoint for no clear reason killing a service member, Fadi Fu’ad Abu al-Hwash. A military source confirmed this to the al-Suwayda 24 blog.
Opposition activists attempted to take advantage of the incident, claiming that al-Suwayda is now witnessing tensions between government forces and the locals. However, the real situation is calm. The families of the slain gunmen said in a statement that what happened was a mere accident.
In the last few years, several local, reportedly neutral, armed groups were formed in al-Suwayda. Some of these groups became infamous for arms and drug trafficking as well as for ransom kidnappings and theft.
These groups clashed with government forces on many occasions and even abducted service members to exchange them for detainees. Despite promoting themselves as protectors of the Druze community, these groups have failed to amass large support in al-Suwayda.
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