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Disputes Standing in Way of Harvesting Crops in al-Qrayya

Disputes between Daraa and Suweida, which have often turned violent, have prevented farmers in the region from collecting their harvest and stripping them of a livelihood writes Enab Baladi.
Disputes Standing in Way of Harvesting Crops in al-Qrayya

At the beginning of the year, Khaled planted wheat; however, he had not been able to get to his fields to harvest crops; because of disputes between residents of al-Qrayya in Suweida Governorate and those in Busra al-Sham in Daraa Governorate.

The effects of kidnappings carried out by Yahya al-Najim, (a leader of a local kidnapping gang) last March, in his village of al-Qrayya, of two people from Busra al-Sham are still playing out, even after his killing by an armed faction from Suweida. As a matter of fact, clashes erupted between members of the Fifth Corps in Daraa and the local factions.

On Mar. 27, 2020, these clashes resulted in the killing of 15 people from Suweida whose bodies were handed over to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), after the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Palestine, Sheikh Mwaffaq Tarif, intervened. Two days later, the SARC transferred the bodies to the National Hospital in Suweida.

Subsequently, the Fifth Corps, supported by Russia, penetrated the western parts of al-Qrayya and raised earthen berms along these lands, for to two kilometers on the borders with Busra al-Sham, which are still there to this date.

Russia as guarantor is ineffective

Speaking to Enab Baladi, Khaled blamed Russia and the regime for not resolving the issue, after villagers tried to reclaim their lands, on Apr. 25, 2020, and declared a state of alert following a deadline given to Syrian regime and Russia, supporting the Fifth Corps, where they asked them to arrest anyone involved in the ‘March incident’.

Meanwhile, various religious and social leaders intervened to resolve the situation, which halted the crowd.

One of the participants in the truce (who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons) described the state of alert as “trap”, while predicting that the region would be in an open war “which is not in the interests of Suweida.”

On Apr. 27, 2020, Russian police tried to remove the earthen berms from al-Qrayya; but these attempts failed after gunmen shot at them and killed a farmer who was working on his land, according to the Al-Qrayya Now News Network.

The network described the incident as “staged” to accuse al-Qrayya residents of targeting Russians, as Russian police fled towards Busra al-Sham.

The network talked about frequent attacks against farmers in the village last May and June while the militants responsible for them headed towards the Fifth Corps earthen berms.

The legal advisor representing factions of the south on the opposition member’s list for the Constitutional Committee, Hassan al-Hariri, who is also taking part in the reconciliation efforts of both governorates, denied the occurrence of these attacks. He also mentioned that, last June, that members of Fifth Corps freed a kidnapped citizen from Suweida and handed him over to his family.

Hariri, who is a resident of Daraa governorate, added that the Russians asked the Fifth Corps to retreat several times, and participated with Busra al-Sham’s residents on joint patrols in the area separating al-Qrayya and Busra al-Sham.

The Fifth Corps retreated two kilometers away towards Busra al-Sham and removed one of the earthen berms near al-Qrayya, while keeping a permanent patrol to “prevent kidnappings,” Hariri said. He also said that security patrols are located in the area between al-Qrayya and Busra al-Sham, in the absence of any kind of boundaries between the two areas.

Farmers waiting for a solution

The fate of al-Qrayya crops, where wheat is the most widely grown crop, in addition to lentils, barley, chickpeas, and cumin, are still unknown, while at least 60 families have lost their livelihoods because of their inability to harvest these crops.

According to al-Qrayya residents, sheep randomly graze on farmland, while farmers are still unable to get to their lands safely.

Muayad Fayyad, a member of the general secretariat of the Social Commission for National Action in Suweida, told Enab Baladi that communication with Daraa residents is underway to reach reconciliation between the two governorates.

Fayyad added that there is coordination between the “social authority” and the opposing “National Assembly” in Suweida as well as with the leaders of “Men of Dignity Movement”, which is the most prominent faction in the province that joined clashes with the Fifth Corps, and everyone wants to put an end to the current dispute between “brothers in Daraa. ”

Although the parties to the dispute have faulted the regime and its security services, the two parties see that the most prominent obstacle is the difference of opinions and attitudes of the residents in both Suweida and Daraa governorates over the issue, which stands in the way of resolving the dispute.


This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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