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Kidnappings Incite Anger in Daraa: A Cycle of Ransom and Release

Abdullah al-Zoubi, a 19-year-old, was abducted from his father's farm in Deir al-Bakht, northern Daraa.
Kidnappings Incite Anger in Daraa: A Cycle of Ransom and Release

In the southern Syrian city of Daraa, a recent resurgence of kidnapping incidents has sparked widespread outrage and condemnation. Among these incidents, one victim was released, while two others await resolution.

Abdullah al-Zoubi, a 19-year-old, was abducted from his father’s farm in Deir al-Bakht, northern Daraa, on February 23. Shortly after, on February 28, communication was lost with Muhammad Khair al-Mahamid, a resident of Umm al-Mayadhin in Daraa’s eastern countryside, during his journey back from Damascus. These episodes occurred two weeks following the release of 16-year-old Rami Al-Maafalani from Nahta, eastern Daraa, who had been kidnapped for about a week in the Al-Lajat area, between Daraa and Suwayda. The release was secured through the intervention of community leaders and military figures.

Deir al-Bakht has become a focal point for discussions on the kidnapping crisis, drawing community leaders from Houran, Lajat, Quneitra, and members of military factions. A family member of al-Zoubi recounted to Enab Baladi that assailants stormed a poultry farm owned by the victim’s father, abducting Abdullah and restraining his brother at the site.

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The kidnappers later demanded a $150,000 ransom from the family, substantiating their demand with a video of Abdullah being tortured. This method mirrors the treatment of previously kidnapped individuals like Rami Al-Maafalani.

On February 29, Muhammad Khair al-Mahamid was kidnapped near Sidon Bridge in eastern Daraa on his return from Damascus. Al-Mahamid’s relatives have yet to hear from the kidnappers, and his phone has been off since the incident.

A notable from Daraa suggested that these kidnappings aim to generate financial returns for the perpetrators, exploiting the region’s security void. Despite efforts to address and halt the kidnapping phenomenon, a lack of a clear strategy persists, partly because the culprits remain unidentified.

The article highlights the necessity of raising public awareness about these criminal bands, advocating for societal rejection, lack of complicity, and the importance of holding these groups accountable by the authorities.

Kidnapping for ransom is not new to Daraa, with several instances reported over the years. In February 2022, Fawaz Al-Qutaifan was released after his family paid a $140,000 ransom, following a three-month abduction. Similarly, the case of ten-year-old Salam al-Khalaf, who vanished in 2020, and six-year-old Mayar Alaa Al Hammadi, who disappeared in 2019, underscore the ongoing threat of kidnapping in the area, with families left in despair and silence despite their pleas for information and willingness to pay for their loved ones’ return.


This article was translated and 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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