Sun 26 May 2019

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Sheikh al-Karama Forces Commander Killed in Suwayda

Leader of the Sheikh al-Karama Forces, Wissam Eid (Facebook).

Leader of the Sheikh al-Karama Forces, Wissam Eid (Facebook).

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Unidentified gunmen have shot dead a commander from the Sheikh al-Karama Forces faction in Salkhad town, south of Suwayda city.

On 3 May the faction commemorated via its Facebook page the death of commander Abu Salah Wassam al-Aid, saying that he “died a martyr from the bullets of treachery and betrayal”.

The faction’s statement added that the actor who carried out the killing remains unknown, and investigations are being carried out.

Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Suwayda reports that the commander, on the night of Thursday 2 May, was targeted by gunfire by unknown militants in a square in Salkhad town.

The correspond says that the commander died from his injuries several hours after being brought to the town’s hospital. The faction officially announced his death the following morning.

The Sheikh al-Karama Forces faction are headed by the locally-known commanders Fahd and Layth, sons of Wahid al-Balaous, who founded the “Men of Dignity” movement in 2012. Al-Balaous was killed by a car bomb in 2015.

After al-Balaous’s killing the “Men of Dignity” movement named Sheikh Yahya al-Hajjar (aka Abu Hassan) as its leader. However, events soon took a different course which prompted Fahd and Layth to form the Sheikh al-Karama Forces faction.

The formation of the new faction did not constitute a defection from the “Men of Dignity” movement, however – the “Men of Dignity” command considers the Sheikh al-Karama Forces part of its own initiative rather than in competition with it.

The local media network Suwayda 24, which covers events in the governorate, said that after commander Wassam al-Aid was taken to hospital a military intelligence unit in Salkhad town was targeted by gunfire, though no injuries were caused.

The Sheikh al-Karama Forces faction said on 3 May that it was not responsible for the events which occurred in Salkhad town after the assassination operation. The faction said that many of the town’s residents bore witness to the group’s presence at the hospital when one of its units was targeted by gunfire.

Commander Wassam al-Aid was previously targeted by gunfire in Suwayda this past April, amid tensions which broke out between the Sheikh al-Karama Forces and the “Al Mazhar” faction. This confrontation led to mutual accusations between the two groups of kidnapping and murder by fighters.

Suwayda is witnessing a chaotic security situation, with kidnappings and looting commonplace. Security forces in the area do not seem to be able to put an end to attacks by unidentified gunmen.

The area has witnessed tensions over recent months generally, as regime security forces have clashed with local residents and killing and kidnappings are carried out.

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