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Sheikh of Dignity Shield: New Faction Found in Sweida

The formation of the Sheikh of Dignity Shield faction in Sweida – February 22, 2019 (Sheikh al-Karamah Forces’ Facebook Page)

The formation of the Sheikh of Dignity Shield faction in Sweida – February 22, 2019 (Sheikh al-Karamah Forces’ Facebook Page)

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The Sheikh al-Karamah/Sheikh of Dignity forces has announced the formation of a new faction in the city of Sweida, named Der’ Sheikh al-Karamah/Sheikh of Dignity Shield.

The forces, in a statement published on Facebook today, Friday (February 22), said that the new faction will be functioning under the motto of “land, honor and religion” in defense of the “dignity of land and the right into a life of dignity, pride and reverence.”

The newly formed faction warned against any “violation of the governorate’s dignity,” as it put it, saying that “no arbitrary arrests in the mountain and no forced detention of citizens, requested to perform the military services or politically prosecuted” will be tolerated.

It “refuses, entirely, throwing the citizens to the torture machine at prisons, known to all, or the unhumanitarian treatment, for there are not any guarantees.”

The Sheikh al-Karamah Forces are led by Fahed and Laith, the sons of Wahid al-Balous, the founder of the Rijal al-Karamah/Men of Dignity Movement in 2012, before he died in 2015 in a car bomb explosion.

Following the al-Balous’ death, the Movement chose Yahia al-Hajar, Abu Hassan, to be its General Commander. However, it took a shift from its original self, which the sons of al-Balous refused to form the Sheikh of Dignity Forces in retaliation.

The new formation has not defected from the Men of Dignity Movement, for its leaders believe that it functions according to the movement’s principals and is not in competition with it.

The Sheikh of Dignity holds the Syrian regime and its head, Bashar al-Assad, responsible for the events that stormed the governorate in the past a few months.

In January, the forces accused the Syrian regime of utilizing all the possible ways “to kill the people of the mountain,” al-Arab Mountain, whether through forcibly recruiting them or sending them “terrorism”  upon refusing to join its forces.

The Forces also commented on the military reinforcements which the regime brought in to the governorate, considering that “they are sufficient to start massive fronts aiming at [regaining] the occupied Golan Heights.”

The regime, for its part, attributed the military reinforcements to its efforts at combating the proliferating gangs, but the Sheikh of Dignity considers that the gangs do not demand such massive reinforcements, especially that the majority of these gangs’ members were holders of security IDS, whose presence has been enhanced by a number of corrupt fronts.

The Sheikh of Dignity Forces refuted the rumors about a 48-hour-respite they granted to the army to leave the governorate, saying that the latter is a guest at the mountain.

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.

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