ISIS had kidnapped 16 women from the village of Al-Chabaki in the countryside of Al-Suwayda (south-west) during an attack on areas in the governorate on July 25, and announced several conditions to release them.
Female abductees from Al Suwayda
Sources from Al-Suwayda told Rozana that the committee that is following up the process of negotiations on the release of the female abductees from the region of Jabal Al-Arab (south of Syria - most of its population is Druze) rejected ISIS’s demands. The abductees from the families of Abu Ammar and Al-Jiba’i are still being held hostage.
ISIS attacked the eastern and the northeastern countrysides of Al-Suwayda Governorate and broke into the city with its group of suicide bombers on Wednesday, July 25 , killing more than 200 people and injuring dozens more.
Minutes after ISIS attack in Al Suwayda governorate
According to the sources, ISIS stipulated releasing its female and male prisoners in the prisons of the Syrian regime, ceasing the fire in areas under its control in the Yarmouk Basin in the sector of Houran, and stopping the air force bombing in the area of Kara and its surroundings in Al-Suwayda district.
ISIS also demanded to sign a joint one-year agreement between it and the Druze community residents of the governorate to stop fighting for any reason, whereby each party is responsible for the breach of the agreement committed by any person belonging to one of the two sides.
One of ISIS’s conditions stipulated that the Syrian regime withdraw its forces from Al-Suwayda that pose a direct threat to ISIS, especially those located at the Badia line, 25 kilometers to the west.
ISIS also stipulated that the Druze should not participate in any battle that might erupt between it and the Syrian regime, in addition to preventing the Syrian regime from using the territory of the Druze to fight ISIS.
Under the aforementioned points, ISIS shall ensure that the Druze representatives safely enter the place of negotiation under its control and ensure their safety on their way back. If no agreement is reached, ISIS will return disfigured body parts of the Druze women to their families, according to ISIS's letter.
ISIS concluded its letter with the words: "Our dead will go to Paradise, but yours will go to Hell."
Through the committee in charge of the issue of negotiations, Al-Suwayda residents rejected ISIS’s demands and called it to commit itself to returning all the abductees from the residents of Al-Suwayda Governorate as soon as possible, otherwise there will be no more negotiations.
The committee prevented ISIS from approaching Al-Suwayda borders 10 kilometers away from the east of the Badia line, warning it that all its activities will be legitimate targets for all Al-Suwayda military factions.
The committee also demanded ISIS to submit a list containing the names, phone numbers and car numbers of all the dealers with ISIS from inside Al-Suwayda Governorate for any purpose, with a clear indication of the type and extent of the deal.
Al-Suwayda residents called on ISIS to pledge not to attack Syrians, their properties or interests within the territory of Al-Suwayda Governorate, which is delimited by the east of the Badia line at a distance of 10 kilometers.
The committee added that any manifestations of military entrenchment, military buildup or opening of supply lines near the Al-Suwayda borders would directly lead to a war, and would be considered as grounds for an immediate reversal of the obligations of the agreement.
Residents of Jabal Al-Arab concluded their response to ISIS's letter saying: "Paradise to our martyrs and hell to your dead."
For their part, activists in Al-Suwayda Governorate launched the “kidnapped women of Al-Suwayda" hashtag in order to draw attention to the new grievances of women there as a result of recent ISIS attack and to mobilize public opinion on the issue.
Meanwhile, the negotiations between the locals of Jabal Al-Arab and ISIS are still pending. Thus, sources reported to Rozana that in case the kidnapped women were exposed to any kind of offence, the response would be a major military action carried out by the local military factions in al-Suwayda.
ISIS attack came two days after a Russian delegation visited the governorate
A Russian delegation visited Al-Suwayda Governorate on June 23, and held a closed meeting in the governorate building, in the presence of high-level security leaders, several Al-Aql Sheikhs (the Druze spiritual leaders) and prominent members of the region, according to the local news network Suwayda24.
The Druze youth, who evaded compulsory military service, joined the so-called Men of Dignity movement under the leadership of Wahid Al-Balous (one of the most prominent Druze sheikhs in Syria - assassinated in 2015). Hence, Al-Balous considered defending Al-Suwayda as more vital for the Druze than engaging in a war that carries no interest for the community.
The Druze Youth
In a phone conversation with the Syrian journalist Osama Abu Dikar during the newshour on Radio Rozana after few hours from ISIS attack, he said: "The last meeting with the Russian delegation had negative results. In fact, the delegation met with a number of Al-Aql Sheikhs in the city and asked the locals to prepare for the battle in the south."
The reporter added that the Russian delegation had asked the residents to make adjustments concerning those who did not serve in the regime’s army. As such, the conversation that took place during the meeting in the governorate building included the families of members of the Men of Dignity movement. Meanwhile, the delegation provided a list of wanted individuals to the Syrian security forces, under the pretext of carrying weapons.
Abu Dikar confirmed from Al-Suwayda that all these orders were rejected by the elders of Jabal Al-Arab, and their response to the Russian delegation was that the residents of Al-Suwayda are not terrorists, and the Men of Dignity movement did not attack the Syrian State, nor used it outside the governorate. The arms were merely used to defend the city.
ISIS attack was carried out by elements transferred by the Syrian regime from south Damascus to the Badia region of Al-Suwayda
Suwayda24 blamed the Syrian regime for the armed attacks and bombings that shelled Al-Suwayda governorate this morning.
The network posted on its official Facebook page that after checking the bodies of dead ISIS members in Al-Suwayda in the aftermath of the attacks, personal identities were discovered and proved that the dead were actually from Yarmouk camp south of the Syrian capital.
Suwayda24 explained that these gunmen are the same ones "who were transported by the Syrian government by air-conditioned buses and trucks to Badia region of Al-Suwayda, and then were attacked by the Syrian army before its withdrawal, leaving the eastern countryside of the governorate in front line confrontation with ISIS."
On June 28, ADB Agency quoted a Palestinian leader as saying that the Syrian regime transferred ISIS’s elements from Yarmouk camp to the Syrian Badia region.
The recent ISIS attacks were a surprise for the population of Al-Suwayda governorate. ISIS attacked the city from three axes: the centre of the city, the eastern countryside of the governorate in the villages of Tarba, Al-Kassib, Al-Ghaydah, Shabak, and the north-eastern countryside of Al-Suwayda in the villages of Matunah, Suwaymirah, Al-Arajah and Timah.