Tensions Rise in Syria’s Suwayda Province Amid Alleged Abduction of Religious Leader

Credit: (Social Media)

Tensions have surged in southern Syria’s Suwayda province following the alleged abduction of a prominent religious and opposition figure by the security forces of the Assad regime. The incident comes against the backdrop of nearly a year of continuous anti-Assad protests in the region, marked by escalations and violence from Assad’s forces.

The religious leader, Raed Al-Matni, was reported missing at approximately three o’clock in the afternoon. He was en route to his village, Al-Kasib, but vanished beforehand, sparking widespread concern and suspicion about his whereabouts.

Local activists and residents have accused the Assad regime of orchestrating the abduction to suppress dissent in the predominantly Druze province. The region has been a hotbed of anti-regime protests, driven by frustration over economic hardships, lack of services, and political repression. These protests have persisted despite the regime’s attempts to quash them through intimidation and violence.

In recent months, the Assad regime’s crackdown on demonstrators has intensified. This escalation included the murder of a protester, which further fueled the anger and resolve of the local population.

Al-Matni’s abduction is seen by many as a direct attempt by the Assad regime to undermine the leadership of the opposition in Suwayda. His disappearance has galvanized protests, with residents taking to the streets to demand his release and to condemn the regime’s actions.

The family of Al-Matni has accused security agencies affiliated with the Assad regime in Suwayda of kidnapping him and fabricating incriminating images. They emphasized that this incident is part of “a systematic and open policy against the free people [of Suwayda]”.

Since the abduction, the Suwayda Governorate has witnessed significant mobilization by local factions. In a statement published by the local Suwayda 24 news network, the family announced that Al-Matni “was subjected to a kidnapping incident near his home in Suwayda, located west of the National Museum.” The statement added that “those parties have worked over the past days to blackmail him, fabricate charges against him, and circulate fabricated pictures.”

The family warned against “delaying his release and revealing his fate within a few hours, otherwise, our responses will be strict, and all security branches will be our target.” This statement followed actions by local groups affiliated with Al-Matni, who kidnapped officers and members of the Assad regime’s army and security services in Suwayda – who were then released following directions from Suwayda’s Druze religious leader Hikmat al-Hijri.

Media sources reported the disappearance of Al-Matni on Friday. Earlier reports from the local Al-Rased network confirmed that factions in Suwayda Governorate had detained three officers and a member of the Assad regime forces in response to Sheikh Al-Matni’s disappearance.

Suwayda remains in a state of heightened tension following Al-Matni’s disappearance. Local factions have vowed further actions against Assad’s security and detention facilities if Al-Matni is not released immediately. As the situation develops, the potential for escalated conflict remains high, with anti-Assad groups prepared to intensify their operations against the regime’s forces.



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