Friday marks the first anniversary of the kidnapping of 18 civilians by the Nusra Front in the province of Deraa.
The men were kidnapped at a checkpoint on the Thula al-Sweida Road, following an attack on a checkpoint at the nearby al-Mujaymer village.
Sources close to negotiations told Zaman al-Wasl that no effort has been spared by figures from Sweida and the Horan region, or by the leaders of the military councils in the two provinces, as well as opposition figures inside and outside Syria, but that all have failed to release the kidnapped civilians.
The same sources said that the Nusra Front used all the methods of negotiations to reach a deal to release the kidnapped, but that whenever an agreement was close, they abandoned its demands and upped unrealistic financial and military demands.
While one field activist said that the kidnapped men are alive in a fortified prison in al-Lajat, others expressed fears that the Front may have executed some of them.
The Nusra Front has continued repressive actions against civilians in Sweida, and the number of kidnapped or missing people has now reached 50 this year alone. The fate of the people remains unknown.
The Nusra Front went even further when it kidnapped members of the Sultan Pasha al-Atrash Brigade, the majority of which are Druze, and which fights alongside with the Free Syrian Army in the region.
Activists told Zaman al-Wasl that the Front tortured the kidnapped soldiers from the brigade and forced them to confess that they are agents for the Syrian regime. They were subsequently tried in al-Musayfra.
The action infuriated FSA fighters in the Horan and elsewhere in Syria, with activists denying the Nusra Front’s claims and confirming the brigade’s patriotism and sacrifices for the revolution.
Peaceful activists and oppositionists launched a campaign collecting signatures from civil and social organizations, asking Nusra to stop this behavior, which serves nobody but the regime and contradicts the aspirations of Syrian people who rebelled against repression.
The Nusra front responded by arresting Fadl Zeinaddine, the commander of the al-Sahl and Jabal Brigades, and the brother of the martyr Khaldoun, who was amongst the delegation formed by Horan figures and FSA battalions to negotiate the kidnap victims’ release.
Translated and edited by the Syrian Observer