The Druze-majority province is mostly left out of the bloody conflict that ravaged the rest of the country since 2011, but there have been sporadic rallies over the deteriorating economic conditions.
There is also growing frustration among residents about arbitrary detentions, random roadblocks and kidnappings for ransom by government-backed fighters. Ryan MaroufAn activist and head of Suwayda24 local media outlet.
Over the weekend, the detention of one resident prompted others to set up informal barriers and to detain members of government-backed gangs and cordon off their hideouts, Suwayda24 reported.
“The rebellion broke out very suddenly and there were attacks on the positions of these armed groups, which have been reinforced with heavy weapons,” Marouf told Reuters late on Wednesday.
The resulting fighting killed 17 people according to Sweden’s health directorate, which was cited by both Suvida 24 and pro-government officials. al-watani Newspaper on Thursday.
The Syrian government has not commented on the violence, but al-Watan said fighting has calmed down and talks are underway on a deal.
The man who was kidnapped over the weekend was finally released, reports sweda24.
Sweda saw rare protests earlier this year, when dozens gathered in the provincial capital to demand a halt to cuts in gas subsidies.