Lack of Governance in Southern Syria: The tension, and the reconciliation between the Sunnis of Daraa and the Druze of Al-Suwayda (Case #2)

On November 9th, a reconciliation agreement was signed by the Druze representatives in Al-Suwayda and the Daraa Province and the “5th Corps.” representatives. According to the agreement, the 5th Corps. will withdraw from the lands it conquered from the Druze area (the geographic area located on the border between the Daraa Province –  Busra Alsham, and the Al-Suwayda Province –  Alqria) in exchange for a promise by the Druze that they will not bring Shiite Axis into these lands, namely: Hezbollah operatives and the Iranian militias.

There has been much tension over the past month and a half between the Sunni residents of the Daraa Province and the Druze residents of Al-Suwayda. On September 29th, brutal clashes broke out between an independent Druze force named “Sheikh al-Karama Forces” (established at the beginning of 2019) and the men of the 8th Brigade of the “5th Corps.” commanded by Muhammad al-‘Auda, who operate in the Daraa Province on behalf of Russia (More about the 5th Corps here).

The clashes escalated to all-out battles, with the use of heavy weaponry, including gunfire, mortars, and RPG rockets. The battles resulted in at least 5 casualties and at least 13 injured.

The clashes’ background is the disputes on the agricultural lands located on the border between the two provinces in the area of the village Alqria. According to the Druze, the residents of Alqria wanted to access their land in which the 5th Corps. established military posts. On the other hand, the people of Daraa claimed that the 5th Corps. posts were attacked beforehand by the Druze.

It is important to note that the “5th Corps.” And the  “Sheikh al-Karama Forces” oppose the Shiite Axis presence, particularly Hezbollah’s in this area.

The Shiite Axis in general, particularly Hezbollah, have a great interest in amplifying tensions in this area. This is part of their desire to harm the 5th Corps. that operates to restrict and distance the Shiite militias and Hezbollah operatives from the area. The violent disputes between the two forces opposing the Shiite Axis (the “5th Corps.” and the “Sheikh al-Karama Forces”) will undoubtedly benefit it. Hezbollah, via the Southern Command headed by Hajj Hashem, has transferred and is transferring weapons for the “Homeland Defense Forces” in the Al-Suwayda Province (The Homeland Defense forces operating on behalf of the Syrian regime and in cooperation with the Shiite Axis). Hezbollah operatives professionally guide the “Homeland Defense Forces” and are physically present in the area.

In our assessment, even if the agreement will last (it should be noted that the relations between the Sunni  Daraa Province residents and the Druze in Al-Suwayda were normally fair, before the outbreak of civil war in Syria and throughout it), the Shiite Axis’s operations in general and Hezbollah in particular in this area will not cease, and the Shiite Axis’s establishment in southern Syria will continue both in the military (More about the Southern Command and Golan File units’ deployment in southern Syria) and in the civilian sense (about which we will publish soon).

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Tal Beeri

Tal Beeri

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