Since the Syrian revolution broke out in Daraa, the Assad regime has tried to gain the trust of the people of Suweida, who have chosen neutrality. The people of this southern province have rejected the regime’s attempts to turn Suweida into a military base for regime operations in the south, especially after rebel advances in Daraa and Al-Quneitera last year.
The efforts of the Assad regime, through its representative Wafeeq Naser (the commander of the military intelligence in southern Syria), alongside Iran and Hezbollah, failed to form a military faction that follows its orders, despite all the privileges and promises given by the regime to individuals in this province.
When the battles of Busra Al-Sham began, the Mullah of Qom published photos to show that they had succeeded in forming a pro-Tehran military faction named “Oh Salman, we are at your service” (“Labaik Ya Salman”). This claimed was rejected by one of the elders of Al-Suwayda, who said, “There is no faction with this name in Suweida. This photo is an attempt by Bashar al-Assad – Iran’s tool – to embroil the province in battles against our neighbors and brothers in the Horan. I defy them to publish a photo that show real members of this faction, if there are any.”
He noted that Hezbollah was able to bring some of the Shabiha of Suwayda to join the Syrian Hezbollah militia, and that they wore the party’s badge to show off. Yet only a few joined, despite all the attempts and the financial temptations offered to form a military faction attack the Horan.
He also mentioned the regime’s discontent with the people of Suweida, since they have refused to join the military service and the reserve duty despite the regime’s threats and the harassments.
The regime tried months ago to delude the people into believing that ISIS is at the outskirts of the province, bordering the Horan, in an attempt to force them to take up arms and fight their compatriots. Yet it has failed despite the lies published by its media, the Iranian media, and pro-regime Facebook pages.
Faisal Alkassem, a media personality, Maher Sharafeddin, a writer, and many other intellectuals have stood up against the attempts by Iran, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime to drag Suweida into the war, and into supporting the sectarian regime against the liberation operation pursued by the rebels against the regime, Hezbollah, and Iran in the Horan.
The Assad regime, along with some Iranian and pro-Hezbollah fighters, have tried to form an armed faction to attack the liberated areas in the Horan. The regime’s minister of defense summoned the laid-off general Jaber Mehrez, "commander of Air Defense Brigade 24, previously squad 38,” and asked him to form an armed force of 10,000 fighters.
Mehrez, the laid-off general, moved through the province trying to gather those who had refused their military service, offering them a 31,000 Syrian pound salary if they joined his militia.”
The Shiite militia Hezbollah has supported and financed this faction whose members fight under the slogan, “Oh Hussein, we are at your service” (“Labaik Ya Hussein”). It has also supervised the military training of dozens of fighters. Hezbollah media and the pro-regime Facebook pages have claimed that this faction is responsible for liberating the eastern Horan and the Daraa-Damascus highway.
Iran and Hezbollah’s failure to form a military faction that supports their policy in southern Syria has forced them to ask Samir Qentar and Weam Wahab to form a militia supported by Iran. Their efforts and the efforts of the retired general (who was involved in the Hama massacre in the 1980s) have all failed.
Activists from Suweida have confirmed that the Iranians had previously trained some young men in popular committees (“lijan sha’biyah”), also known as shabiha, in Iran in order to send them to fight rebels in the Horan.
Wafeeq Naser’s cells, alongside Iran and Hezbollah’s infiltrators, are trying to form this group in order to send them to attack rebel strongholds in the Horan. The people do not yet accept this, and the elders of the sect have rejected participation by some citizens in military operations launched by Assad forces and the Iranian militias in Busra Al-Sham in the past few days.
Activists from the Horan and Jabal Al-Arab (Jabal Al-Durze) have called upon the people of Suweida and the elders of the Druze sect not to allow the regime, the Mullahs of Tehran, and Hezbollah to sow this discord in the mountain and the Horan plain.
An officer in the Syrian army leaked information to Siraj Press about a meeting held between a senior officer in the republican palace, officers from Suweida, and General Wafeeq Naser. He talked about the major role that Wafeeq Naser played to pressure the people of Suweida. He emphasized the necessity of humiliating the people, depriving them of oil and electricity, and using a policy of collective punishment to frighten them of the future. He said, “We should make them suffer from hunger and deprivation to show them that that state is still standing, and to keep them subservient.”
There is a state of discontentment among the civilians of Suweida that resulted from the restrictions imposed by the national defense militias, who have now become organized gangs led by Wafeeq Naser and a group of clients among the citizens of Suweida.
After a bloody incident, one of the Druze elders of Suweida sent a message to the citizens of the province asking them to reject the discord that the regime is trying to incite between them and the citizens of the Horan. At the same time, the elders of the two provinces accused General Wafeeq Naser of inciting this discord among the citizens of Horan through his shabeeha and infiltrators on both sides of the provincial border, in order to incite clashes in the southern area, in which Syrians would be the only losers and the regime the only beneficiary.
A few months ago, Faisal Al-Kassem quoted this elder saying, “Maintain good relationships with your neighbors, and protect them from agitators. Your neighbors will always support you. You can always change history but you can never change the geography. Daraa is closer to you than Qerdaha. Your water comes from Daraa. If you get thirsty neither Drekish nor the coast will give you water. Figure out your priorities, and never become the fuel that will burn you and Syria”.
Another elder has said, “Reject the discord between us and our neighbors, whoever they may be. Any struggle will only benefit the regime, which has been playing us all from the beginning. Instead of fighting each other, let’s fight who is playing us all. The closest point to you is the military security division in Suweida led by General Wafeeq Naser. There is the head of the snake: cut it off before it burns our city with the fire of this discord.”
Daraa intellectuals’ statement
Intellectuals from Daraa issued a statement last Sunday warning the elders of Suweida of the plans of the Iranian regime and its tool, Bashar Al-Assad, who are trying to push them to fight the citizens of Horan, who are sacrificing their lives to free Syria from this regime and sectarian militias.
They have said, “After four years of killing, destruction, and discord, and other regime tactics, sectarian militias have started to appear that serve the Iranian project to occupy the country, which all Syrians reject.” They have confirmed that they care about the common fate of all Syrians.
They added, “Our people of Suweida: the regime and the Iranian occupiers are trying to send you to fight the rebels of Horan, who are sacrificing their lives to free Syria.” They have emphasized that the rebels are performing a patriotic act that aims to force the militias out of the city of Busra and its villages, in accord with the main goal of the revolution: defending Syrians’ lives, dignity and freedom without serving any special agenda or ideology.
The battles that have begun in Busra Al-Sham between the rebels and Assad’s forces have cost Assad’s forces much blood and materiel. The regime has tried to send support from Suweida, but the citizens refused to make their province a base for regime, Iranian, and Hezbollah military operations. Only a few people from Suweida have participated in these battles.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer