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The New Arab Staff

Syria regime releases three activists detained over Suweida protests

The three men were released on Tuesday [Getty-file photo]

Date of publication: 1 July, 2020

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Three activists have returned to Suweida after being detained by the regime.

Three Syrian activists who were detained in Damascus last month for taking part in peaceful protests in Suweida have returned to their home province, following mediation by local leaders and Russia.

The three men were transferred to the office of a Sheikhs of Dignity leader in Shanira village on Tuesday evening, an influential Druze movement that has sought a "third way" in the Syria war and attempted to secure their release.

A video released by the Suwayda 24 monitoring group showed the three men - named as Bashar Amin Taraby, Salman Mamdouh Faraj and Ihsan Muhammad Nofal - being welcomed by locals on their return home.

Before their release, the men were made to pledge they would not take part in any anti-government protests or activism, according to The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site.

Russia also played a role in the negotiations, the site added

Eight more activists are reportedly still behind bars but will be released soon according to Suwayda 24.

Suwieda, a Druze-majority province, was rocked by anti-government protests last month, sparked by anger over rising inflation, a drop in living standards, and corruption.

Eleven activists were detained after pro-regime mob broke up one of the protests with the group moved to Damascus sparking fears about their safety.

Suweida has been less affected by the war than other parts of Syria, in part due to the powerful role of the Sheikhs of Dignity movement who have sought to steer the province on a path of semi-autonomy.

The movement's militias were mostly involved in battles with rebel and jihadi groups in Daraa province but have also occasionally clashed with regime forces.

The group sought to protect young Druze from regime conscription drives and encouraged them to join local militias and protect Suweida from outside attacks.

Protests and civil society have been more tolerated in Suweida than other parts of Syria, where such actions are usually dealt with brutally by security forces.

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