Sweida governorate is in a state of strain following the tension between the Syrian regime and the local factions of the governorate, Southern Syria, which resulted of the Assad forces’ failure at attracting the governorate’s men, evading compulsory and reserve military service, through the pardon decree, issued in October.
The tension came after the meeting that joined the Security Committee in Syria of the National Office in Damascus with all the religious and social entities in Sweida in mid-December to discuss the current state of affairs.
The entities referred to “economic” reasons preventing the men from join the army and stressed their desire to end the security chaos through disarmament of local factions, which the committees described as “sectarian” militias, and the legalization of their status.
This triggered the anger of the local factions, on top of which was the “Sheikh al-Karama Forces,” Sheikh of Dignity, which refuted the allegations that it has agreed to undergo a settlement and joining sides, it referred to as “suspicious.”
In a statement published after the meeting, the Forces said that “they are informed of all the security intelligence entities working in secret, which intend to conduct arrests and assassinations of some of the Sheikh al-Karama Forces’ personalities, and other figures on the accusation of terrorism,” which will be an introduction to erect checkpoints, detain people required for military service and undertake other arbitrary arrests.
In a separate term, the forces stressed “their state of readiness, preparedness and utter refusal of disarmament,” considering that the reasons that urged them to bear arms are yet present in Sweida, threatening it.
About the abductees, the statement highlighted the faction’s keenness on keeping the issue of military service an optional matter, warning against any forced recruitment of young people, pointing out that any step in that direction would be aiming to shake the governorate’s stability and put its population’s safety at a risk.
In the steps of the “Sheikh al-Karama Forces,” the “al-Fahd Forces” announced reediness to combat the Syrian regime’s movements in the governorate, in a statement published after that of the “Sheikh al-Karama Forces.”
The forces said: “We, al-Fahd Forces, announce our complete reediness and preparedness under the slogan: We prohibit any violations on our part and prohibit any violations against us.”
They added that the announcement was in response to information that was circulating regarding meetings being held and demands being made for the disbandment of local factions and the confiscation of their weaponry. The statement attributed these reports to the “return of a repressive system with an agenda contrary to our national interests here in Sweida”.
The two factions refused disarmament, and “al-Fahd Forces” said: ““we reject any infringement in this regard; withdrawing weapons will be unacceptable for as long as there is reason to carry them, for as long as the area remains under threat”.
The local “Facebook” pages and websites, specialized in reporting the governorate’s news, circulated a news saying that military service for the conscripts who are more than 35 years old will be undertaken within the borders of the governorate, but the news disappeared about 24 hours later, making the whole process sound like a new offer to urge young men to join the ranks of the army.
Crossed sources from Khalkhalah village, adjacent to the Khalkhalah Air Base, informed Enab Baladi of the arrival of trucks carrying security elements in the area, while the reasons for these reinforcements remain unclear.
About the troops brought in to the Khalkhalah Air Base, Maher Abu al-Khair, media activist, said that about 3200 security elements are preparing to be deployed to the security branches in the governorate, to withdrew arms from the local factions and force young men to join the Assad’s forces, pointing out that the decision of indulging in confrontations against the people of al-Arab Mountain, is a sensitive matter for both sides, relating to the Syrian regime’s, and Russia from behind, intention to undertake serious steps concerning the whole Southern area, not Sweida in particular, a matter that has not been resolved at an international level to the moment, as he put it.
The Syrian regime does not want to make such a step alone through an armed combat against the area’s factions, he added.
Sweida is, thus, tormented between the local factions, refusing to give up on their arms and wishing to give the young men the freedom of choice, and Assad’s forces, insisting on conscripting young men and the disarmament of the factions, as to have the upper hand in the governorate.