Barely a day passes in Daraa until this governorate in southern Syria witnesses killings, assassinations, and armed clashes, resulting in civilian and military casualties from various parties, and although the roots of this scene go back to after the “settlement” agreements that took place after 2018, only The circle of “lawlessness” is expanding in a new direction, which is summarized in the confrontations of “the gangs of the one security branch,” as described by activists and observers.
Five years ago, the attack launched by the Syrian regime forces, with Russian support, ended with “settlement” agreements that were reproduced several times and in many separate areas. According to it, those who preferred to remain among the members of the opposition factions joined armed formations affiliated with security branches such as the “Military Security” and “Air Force Intelligence” and military divisions such as the “Fourth Division” and the Russian-backed Corps (the Fifth Corps), in a choice that contradicts what they were in the beginning.
These formations and their members have always been mentioned in the stations that the Syrian south lived through, during the past years, and at a time when the count of killing “recorded against an unknown person” remained continuous, without an “organizational formula” being known for it, while each of them had an area of influence, in Daraa’s neighborhoods, villages and towns. located in its countryside.
The official narrative of the Syrian regime rarely refers to the path taken by those who preferred to remain among the opposition factions, but on the other hand, the latter spoke on many occasions about the existence of “civilian groups”, which had previously supported it in security and military operations, including against the headquarters of cells of the “ISIS” organization.
And while Daraa governorate was waiting on Friday night for what it would record of killings and assassinations with the dawn of the next day, its night witnessed tension for hours imposed by armed clashes that erupted between two groups, the first known to be affiliated with the “Military Security” branch, and the second as well.
The confrontations resulted in deaths from both groups and members of the Syrian regime’s police, while the Syrian neurologist, Ali Barakat Al-Saad, was killed while he was leaving the private Al-Sharq Hospital in Al-Kashef neighborhood. “A stray bullet hit him,” while the gunfire was at its most intense.
The aforementioned incident, which also included cutting operations on the international road leading to the Nassib crossing, indicates the special situation of these formations, and gives an indication of a “paradox” in the relationship between them, as they “collide” even though they are linked to the same dependency.
“Not Born Loyalty”
It was hoped that the “settlement” agreement, when it was signed, would impose a state of stability in the governorate, large parts of which were outside the control of the Bashar al-Assad regime, provided that this would be followed by the settlement of the situation of those wanted by the security forces, and the restoration of services and the repair of infrastructure.
However, all of the above was not implemented on the ground, due to several reasons, most notably the Syrian regime’s failure to comply with any of the demands, especially the release of detainees and the cessation of raids and raids.
All of the above made Daraa, in which the first sparks of the Syrian revolution erupted, revolve within a labyrinth of killing and “security chaos”, without knowing the parties benefiting from it or the motive for its continuous imposition on the ground.
While some accuse ISIS of being behind the assassinations, others suggest the responsibility of the Syrian regime and its security branches, and a third party attributes the reasons to the nature of the controlling parties on the ground, the context of “conflict of interests” and the endeavors to “take revenge” for issues whose story dates back to before the “settlement”.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented, on the eighteenth of January, the killing of two members of the “local groups”, and the serious injury of a citizen and a child, following the outbreak of an armed clash between two local groups, one of which is affiliated with the “Military Security” in the city of Jasim in the countryside of Daraa. Northern.
The Observatory explained: “A dispute broke out between two elements, which developed into clashes, and the two sides brought military reinforcements to the place of the clash, amid tension prevailing in the region.”
The Syrian researcher at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies, Nawar Shaaban, believes that the local groups that were associated with the security branches after the settlement agreements “are not born of loyalty, but were formed either with the aim of survival or power and the promotion of material gains,” and that they “first and foremost have their own goals,” according to his expression.
Shaaban, a specialist in security affairs, said in an interview with Al-Hurra: “It was not formed because it loves military security or the Syrian regime, but rather to protect its interests, and it is very natural to see a clash between them in the event of conflicting interests.”
“These groups eat from the same plate, as is well known. Therefore, this situation pushes them to clash, and who will have all the interests from whose account,” according to the researcher.
In turn, the human rights activist, Omar al-Hariri, points out that the “security branches” of the Syrian regime are present everywhere in Daraa Governorate, and that the members affiliated with them are spread in most villages and towns, while “the process of distributing power takes place among those who have the greatest focus compared to the other.”
The activity of the “Military Security” is concentrated in the western countryside of Daraa, and the local groups affiliated with it have the greatest influence there. However, other branches have influence, but to a lesser extent.
Al-Hariri told Al-Hurra: “The city of Jassem, for example, is counted on the influence of the State Security branch, and this does not negate the influence of other branches, and so on… The story is not the division of areas of control as much as it is the distribution of influence.”
The human rights activist explains that the clash that occurs from time to time between groups that are known to belong to the same security branch is linked to “personal interests”, in contrast to the general image of the Syrian regime’s security services.
He added, “The clash that took place on Friday night between two groups affiliated with the Military Security is closer to a clash of gangs than a clash of security elements officially,” pointing out that the members “carry security cards, and the clash between them comes to protect interests.”
Daraa is considered the first Syrian governorate whose citizens chanted against the Syrian regime, and demanded its overthrow, and despite the Syrian regime’s control over it after 2018, the voices calling for freedom and the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad did not stop there.
It is also characterized by a special situation that distinguishes it from the rest of the Syrian regions that entered into the “settlement agreements”, in terms of the nature of the military forces controlling its villages and towns, as well as the nature of the fighters, and the details of the regime’s control over it, which is described as “fragile”, as is the case of its neighbor As-Suwayda.
The Syrian regime does not comment much on the state of “security chaos” in Daraa, which has become a prominent feature that distinguishes it, and makes it at the forefront of news about Syria, but on the other hand, it always announces the killing of its soldiers in “terrorist attacks.”
As is the case with the assassinations that target civilians, local activists, media professionals, and former faction leaders in the opposition, killings also affect officers and members of the “Syrian army”, and their intensity has escalated since the beginning of last December.
The Syrian researcher Shaaban points out that “the lack of clarity in the administrative and security structure in Daraa governorate, despite the control of the Syrian regime, is considered a game of time that the latter is trying to play.”
The researcher says, “The regime has nothing but time. It has margins, but in Daraa it is unable to stop everything and withdraw the gangs,” considering that “withdrawing the gangs and stopping the state of chaos requires international efforts, and this is what the regime aspires to,” in order to have a foothold. in that.
While there is an equation of conflict of interests between the local groups and their counterparts, many incidents witnessed the involvement of officers of the Syrian regime indirectly, after they were kidnapped, by imposing their exchange with “other kidnapped”.
The above was witnessed by the incident on Friday night, when one of the local groups arrested an officer with the rank of “Brigadier General” in Assad’s forces, in order to release another leader and leader in it called “Ismail Al-Qaddah”.
Human rights activist Hariri believes that “the Syrian regime has been aware since 2018 that the former members of the opposition who joined the formations of its security branches did not make this choice out of loyalty.”
He explains: “There are priorities for the regime in the sense that there is no problem with a few gangs carrying security cards and the relationship between them is punctuated by clashes, while ensuring that they do not return to the state of strong armed factions capable of wresting control of the region, and that the province remains calm at the level of the revolution.”