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Protests erupt in Syria's Suweidah, as lira plunges to low of 3,000 to the dollar Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Protests erupt in Syria's Suweidah, as lira plunges to low of 3,000 to the dollar

Suwidah remains unstable, despite being relatively unaffected by direct fighting [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 June, 2020

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Syria's economic woes have continued, with protests erupting in regime areas.
Protests broke out in Syrian regime areas on Sunday as the economic situation in the country worsens and the lira crashes to a new low of 3,000 to the dollar.

Suweidah, a Druze-majority region which has a semi-autonomous status, saw the largest protests due to the economic crisis.

Protesters marched through the region's capital, chanting slogans against Bashar Al-Assad and calling for solidarity with other areas that have rebelled against the regime.

"Leave now Bashar" and "The people want the fall of the regime", were some of the chants by protesters, according to Zaman Al-Wasl.

The protesters also called for Assad regime backers - Iran and Russia - to leave the country.

Demonstrations were also reported in southern Syria's Daraa province, an area held by the opposition until a Russian-backed regime offensive in 2018.

The area has seen a low-level insurgency erupt in recent months, where the regime's hold remains weak with parts of the province run by former rebel groups with links to Russia.

Suweidah is controlled by a patchwork of local militias, some with a rocky relationship with the regime, and government security forces.

Suweidah has been prone to instability and crime during the war, despite being less affected by direct fighting.

The Islamic State group carried out a series of massacres in the province in 2018, leaving around 200 people dead. Al-Nusra Front militants also carried out a massacre in the province in 2015.

Locals have blamed the regime for not preventing the massacres and activists also suggested the regime could be behind general lawlessness, as a way of regaining direct control over Suweidah.

Suweidah has seen various challenges to regime rule, including by the Sheikhs of Dignity, whose leader - Sheikh Wahed Balaus - was murdered in 2015.

The group had advocated neutrality for the Druze community during the Syrian war and has had various run-ins with rebel, Islamist and regime groups alike.

Prostests have also erupted in opposition Idlib province, against Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an armed Syrian group with former links to Al-Qaeda and have routinely oppressed activists.

The Syrian regime is in the grips of its worst economic crisis in decades, with the currency crashing to below 3,000 liras to the dollar this weekend.

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