Druze Leader Sheikh Baalous Assasinated
September 4, 2015
The leader of the Syrian Druze opposition group, the Sheikhs of Dignity, was assassinated by IED today. Sheikh Waheed Baalous, was killed while driving through the Thur al Jabal area. Early reports are indicating that a roadside IED was placed along the route Baalous’s car took. Fadi Naim and 2 others were also killed in the blast.
The assassination came in the wake of statements made by Baalous that 1) refused to commit [the Druze] to military service with the Syrian Army, and 2) Accused Syrian Security Chief Ali Machnouk of attempting to eliminate the Syrian Druze population. Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt while mourning the late Baalous, stated that Baalous’s refusal to commit the Syrian Druze to military service, was a refusal to participate in the oppression and killing of their Syrian brothers.
Tensions between the Syrian government and Druze opposition members have been mounting in recent months which are evident in Suwayda. Demonstrators have called for residents of Suwayda to end government corruption and also inflated prices for electric and gas services. Protests in Suwayda have been slowly growing in number over recent months.
In a response to the assassination, fighters loyal to the Sheikhs of Dignity stormed areas held by Syrian security forces in the area. These clashes resulted in 6 local SARG being killed and an exchange of fire between the two sides in the streets of Suwayda city. There are also reports of other blasts in Suwayda. Unrest has also resulted in demonstrators in Suwayda destroying a statue of Hafez al Assad and the Syrian government have blocked the Damascus Airport Motorway. The latter was done to prohibit residents of Jarmana of traveling to Suwayda.
Note: (Syrian time zone) As of 4am on Saturday the 5th, it has been confirmed by Syrian activists that 27 people were killed and 48 people were wounded during the attacks and subsequent clashes.