Hundreds of protesters in south Syria take to streets over living conditions

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Hundreds of Syrians took to the streets again on Monday in the country’s southern Sweida province, local media reported, as dire living conditions stoke discontent in regime-held areas.

Rare protests have erupted in the country’s south in recent days after the government lifted fuel subsidies last week, dealing a blow to Syrians already struggling with the heavy toll that 12 years of war have exacted on the economy.

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Local news outlet Suwayda24 posted videos showing hundreds of protesters gathered in the province on Monday, holding up banners and chanting anti-government slogans including “freedom” and “long live Syria, down with (President) Bashar al-Assad.”

The protests come on the heels of a strike Sunday against deteriorating living conditions and price hikes across Sweida province – the heartland of the country’s Druze minority – which has been mostly spared the worst of the civil conflict.

Syria’s war has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions since it broke out in 2011 following Assad’s repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests.

It spiraled into a deadly conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global extremists.

On Saturday, dozens demonstrated in southern Syria’s Daraa province, some raising the opposition flag and calling for Assad’s departure, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

Daraa was the cradle of Syria’s uprising. It returned to regime control in 2018 under a Russia-backed ceasefire deal and has since been wracked by violence and dire living conditions.

Suwayda24 called Sunday’s strike “unprecedented” since 2011, noting government offices had shut in the province and protesters chanted anti-Assad slogans.

In December, one protester and a policeman were killed when security forces cracked down on a demonstration in Sweida against deteriorating living conditions.

Read more:

Protests erupt in Syria’s Druze city over fuel hikes

Syria doubles pay for civil servants, military personnel

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