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Syrians chant deceased rebel fighter Sarout's name in Suweidah protest Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Syrians chant deceased rebel fighter Sarout's name in Suweidah protest

Sarout was one of the most recognisable faces in the Syrian opposition [file photo-Getty]

Date of publication: 9 June, 2020

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Syrians in Suweidah have held new anti-regime protests.
New protests erupted in Syria's Suweidah province on Tuesday, as anger over an economic crisis spreads through the country, with activists launching a campaign "We Want to Live".

Anti-regime chants were heard at videos of  demonstrations held in Suweidah over the past three days, a semi-autonomous Druze-majority region in southern Syria. 

On Tuesday, the third day of protests, large crowds held a demonstration in Suweidah City, including calls for the end of the regime and fall of Bashar Al-Assad.

Protesters have also voiced sympathy for opposition Idlib and Daraa, the former southern rebel province which has also witnessed an uprising against the regime.

The protests continued Tuesday on the eve of the anniversary of former President Hafez Al-Assad's death, while Monday marked one year since popular rebel fighter and activist Abdul Baset Al-Sarout was killed in clashes with regime forces in Hama province.

Protesters reportedly chanted "Burn your soul, Hafez... and have mercy on your soul, Sarout" on Monday to commemorate the rebel fighter and former Syrian national team goalkeeper.

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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