Reports have emerged on social media indicating that the Assad regime has arrested Nawaf Ragheb al-Bashir, sheikh of the al-Bakara tribe, and who is close to Iran, who declared his loyalty to Assad about a year and a half ago, and then returned to Syria after years of opposition to the regime.
The pro-regime Snack Syria site said in a report published on Saturday that the Bashir family has been silent about the reports of his arrested by one of the regime’s security agencies. It added that it had contacted members of his family, but that they had declined to comment on the matter.
According to the same site, at the same time no one confirmed whether there had been communication with him over the last two days. It added that one very close relative of Bashir’s said that he did not know if he was arrested, and that he preferred not to get into the discussion currently, despite the fact that he had been meeting with him almost daily in normal conditions.
Snack Syria reported that the information provided by sources from outside the family indicated that Bashir was arrested two days earlier by a security agency and that he was now being held in Damascus, with no information provided about the reasons for his arrest.
The Background of Bashir’s Summoning
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a report issued on Dec. 3, 2018, that Assad regime authorities had called in Nawaf al-Bashir over the behaviors of his brigade in Deir ez-Zor province, after widespread popular dissatisfaction over the al-Baqr Brigade militia’s practices.
On Sept. 12, 2018, the Syrian Observatory said that members of the Baqr Brigade had been observed killing officers in the Criminal Security wing of the Assad regime during their raid to catch a child rapist in the Bab al-Faraj area in central Aleppo. A major was killed after he was shot at by members of the militia to enable the suspect to flee.
Bashir had announced his return to the Assad regime in May 2017 and appeared in a number of videos in Damascus in which he declared the renewal of his loyalty to Assad.
Weeks after his return to the regime, Bashir was insulted by one of the regime’s intelligence branches because of a post he wrote on Facebook.
Dozens of members of the Bakara tribe in Syria, including military and civilian figures and notables, previously said in a statement that “the tribe’s sheikh, Nawaf al-Bashir, represents himself and does not represent the tribe’s view.”
Bashir, who has previously declared his loyalty to Tehran, has played a role in implementing Iranian agendas in eastern Syria by exploiting the needs of his tribe’s members for money and influence given that his tribe is notables for in drawing in younger members to the Iranian militias formed in Deir ez-Zor. He currently oversees the militias from Arab tribes whom Iran is training and funding.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.