Fri 27 Nov 2020

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Reasons behind central committees’ targeting in Daraa

Members of the southern front of the opposition forces - 23 March 2017 (Syrian Media Organization)

Members of the southern front of the opposition forces - 23 March 2017 (Syrian Media Organization)

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Enab Baladi – Ali Darwish

Members of the central committees in Daraa governorate, south of Syria, have been subjected to several assassination attempts since last May, which led to the killing and injuring of a number of them, the last of which was the former leader in the “Free Syrian Army (FSA),” Adham al-Krad.

In most of these assassination operations, accusations were pointed at the Syrian regime’s security branches because of its efforts to weaken the committees’ role.

Even though the FSA’s military factions maintained some power, control, and independence after the so-called “settlement” agreement in July 2018, their leaders were on three committees that negotiated the Syrian regime under Russian supervision.

During the past months, the regime sought to weaken these committees’ role by contracting draft evaders to join compulsory military service and security branches in return for not being pursued by the security services or by deploying military barriers for its forces.

Last June, the Russian forces opened a center to receive the requests of the families of the detainees in the Syrian regime’s prisons and provide identification documents to their children, despite the central committee’s submission of lists that include the number of detainees and their names more than once for the Syrian regime’s forces.

 Targeting central committees forces young people to leave

The assassination of al-Krad, who served as the commander of the “Engineering and Missile Battalion,” and was one of the commanders of the operations room of “al-Bonyan al-Marsous,” is the most prominent assassination of members of the central committee.

On 14 October, al-Krad, together with Yusuf al-Mahamid and three other men accompanying them, were killed by gunfire shot at their car, and bombs were thrown inside it, north of Daraa, during their return journey from Damascus.

Member of the “Free Daraa Governorate Council,” researcher and engineer, Motee al-Bateen said to Enab Baladi that the regime wants to deliver a message through the assassinations that it does not want any opposing voice in Daraa even if it was peaceful.

The assassination of al-Krad outside his area of Daraa al-Balad means that the regime has been preventing any communication between the committees and any other party.

According to al-Bateen, this assassination is a message from the regime to push its opponents in the governorate to leave it.

The security situation, absence of sustainable development, and high prices are all reasons pushing young men to leave the area, according to what was monitored by Enab Baladi.

Omar Hariri, a member of the “Daraa Martyrs Documentation Office,” expected the increase of assassination attempts and operations after the recent targeting.

 Three central committees in Daraa… How were they formed and for what purpose?

In a previous talk with Enab Baladi, lawyer Adnan al-Masalmeh, a member of the central committee in Daraa, said that the governorate has three central committees, formed in July 2018. These committees were established after the Syrian regime and its Russian ally launched a military campaign on the governorate, and the factions’ supporters’ abandonment of them, including the “Military Operation Centers (MOC),” based in Amman-Jordan.

Furthermore, some opposition military formations leaders fled to Jordan and other places, creating a need for the residents to form entities to gather around, according to al-Masalmeh.

These committees include a committee in Daraa’s western countryside and another predominantly civilian committee in Daraa city (Daraa al-Balad committee). The third committee is the eastern countryside committee in Busra al-Sham town, which has a military character and is controlled by the “8th Brigade” of the “Fifth Corps,” formed by Russia, and led by commander Ahmed al-Awda.

The committees consist of people working in the civilian field, including bodies, tribal sheikhs, and former leaders in the FSA.

These committees were able to defer the dissent’s military service during the two years of the “settlement” agreement. Still, despite their presence, the regime arrested more than a thousand “settlement cards” holders.

The functions of the committees are summarized in asking the Syrian regime forces and the Russian guarantor to implement the provisions of the “settlement” agreement signed in July 2018: the release of detainees, the return of the displaced people to their homes, the back of governmental institutions to work, the provision of public services, as well as “settling” the situation of dissidents, deserters and draft evaders from military service, integrating the opposition fighters into the “Fifth Corps,” and allowing government employees to return to their jobs.

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