Druze pressure regime into prisoner exchange

0413Suwayda

FAIR TRADE: The regime exchanged three female detainees from Daraa province for three rebel-held Druze prisoners from Suwayda on Sunday after local Druze sheikhs pressured the regime to make the deal, reported pro-opposition Orient News. 

Suwayda Druze leader Sheikh Balaous, who has previously denounced the Syrian regime in inflammatory terms and is pictured above, said that he had spoken with the governor of Suwayda and its security council, and threatened the regime if the detainees from Daraa were not released, in a letter quoted by Syria Mubasher.

“This is a warning I want to be spread as much as possible,” Balaous was quoted as saying. “If the girls are not released from the security branch that they are held in, no one blame us. We sent people to the governor and to the security council, and if they do not release them, we did our part and there is no blame on us.”

Rebels from Daraa kidnapped three Druze civilians from a village in Suwayda province last Tuesday to leverage the release of the three female detainees from Daraa held by the regime in Suwayda’s Airport Intelligence Branch, reported pro-opposition news agency Syria Mubasher.

The kidnapping came after previous rebel attempts to secure the women’s release failed. It was not immediately clear who they were or why they were arrested.

The exchange comes during a period of increasing anti-regime sentiment in Suwayada province as the regime arrests local young men for refusing military service. An estimated 250 people protested outside a state security branch in Suwayda city on Saturday demanding the release of a man arrested for avoiding military service, reported a local news outlet.

-April 13, 2015

-Photo courtesy of West Province Gathering

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