The Syrian Democratic Forces’ anti-drugs unit has killed one man and injured in operations to curb booming drug sales in northern Syria that opposition groups say are fuelled by the Assad regime.
Two men were pursued after resisting arrest outside the local mosque in al-Kasra, near to Deir Ezzor on Wednesday.
A firefight broke out, in which one of the men was killed and the other badly injured.
The injured man was a former leader in the Deir Ezzor military council and was known to work in the drugs trade, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The SDF has formed a special military unit to deal with the increasing drug trade across control lines with the Assad regime, which has been rising steadily throughout 2022.
The new unit has tried to gain a foothold in the struggle against drug dealing in SDF-controlled areas through a campaign of arrests in December.
Several houses in the Deir-ez-Zor region have been stormed and at least three arrests have been made.
Opposition figures say the drugs trade in liberated areas is being promoted and facilitated by militias loyal to the Assad regime in Damascus.
“The Assad regime has expanded its criminal repertoire to include producing and distributing drugs – across Syria and beyond. It’s started to gain international attention,” said Abdulrahman Mustafa, head of the Syrian Interim government, in a statement.
“Across the liberated territories, we have to work together to combat this dangerous phenomenon. This is a new weapon in the hands of the regime, aimed to strike at the heart of the Syrian revolution.”
War-torn Syria has become the region’s main production site for a multi-billion dollar trade also destined for Iraq and Europe. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime denies involvement in drug making and smuggling.
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.