At least 1,500 displaced people from Deir-ez-Zor, Raqqa, and Aleppo were deported from Suweida province on charges of terrorism and residing in areas controlled by the Islamic State group, according to pro-government media outlets.
The human rights breach was carried out by regime security in cooperation with top clerics from the predominantly Druze-dominated city in the county’s south.
One pro-regime media outlet on Friday reported that “hundreds of families, almost 1,500 people” escaped from “armed gangs” which arrived at the shelter in the town of Harjaleh, countryside of Damascus.
However, other local news outlets revealed that the decision to raid the shelter was initiated by “Sheikh al-Aql Yusuf Jarbooa,” who demanded the deportation of all displaced people who recently settled in eastern Suweida.
According to the reports, the displaced would be taken to Talaea Al-Baath camp in Rasas town under the supervision of local militias, who would interrogate and inspect them, and then be transferred to the countryside of Damascus.
Other news networks mentioned that the sheikh had contacted officials in Damascus and questioned them about the newcomers, where he was told that the displaced had arrived from safe areas where there was no reason to flee.
According to Minister of National Reconciliations Ali Haidar, Sheikh al-Aql had threatened to wait until the end of last week to resolve the matter, stating that he would not be able to guarantee safety to the displaced as many local youths see them as terrorists for having travelled through ISIS-controlled areas.
Around 18 prominent Druze figures issued a written petition to the head of Suweida’s provincial council requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the issue of the newly displaced in the town.
The petition mentioned that the displaced had spread throughout the town’s squares without any security observation while appearing to look like “terrorists” or connected to terrorists.
One local journalist wrote that he met with many of the displaced, which gave him the confidence to reassure people in Suweida about their presence, as they have come to the city temporarily and do not intend to settle.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.