Skip to main content

Syria: clashes in Damascus countryside with Maher Assad brigade leave 5 dead

The residents of Zakia town had been raising anti-regime banners, and a man was killed by local militias affiliated with Maher al-Assad’s Fourth Division this week.
Tens of thousands of people rally in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on October 26, 2011, as an Arab delegation led by Qatar was headed for Syria for mediation between the Syrian government and its opponents. The demonstrators, waving Syrian flags and brandishing pictures of Assad and his brother Maher (L), swarmed to Omayyad square in the heart of Damascus. AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images)

At least five people were killed on Thursday in clashes between local militants and residents of a town in the Damascus countryside, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Britain-based monitoring group with a vast network of sources on the ground.

The SOHR said the violence erupted after a group of militants affiliated with the Fourth Division of the Syrian army, an elite brigade led by President Bashar al-Assad’s brother Maher al-Assad, killed a man in the town of Zakia while attempting to arrest him on Wednesday evening.

According to the opposition-affiliated news website Sawt al-Asima (Damascus Voice), Nazeer Shaaban, a 37-year-old resident of Zakia, was shot multiple times in the chest by Jamal Noureddine, a member of the Fourth Division-affiliated group.

The killing reportedly came after Shaaban found out that Noureddine and Muawiya Tohme, the leader of the local militia, had intentionally bombed a shop that maintained water well equipment in the town earlier this month because of a dispute with its owners.

During Thursday’s clashes, the locals set fire to the houses of some members of the militia in Zakia, according to the SOHR. Four people were also injured in the fighting.

According to local reports, tension has been brewing in the town since residents began raising anti-regime banners last week, coinciding with the protests in the southern province of Suwayda. The Syrian army sent reinforcements around Zakia in response to the recent moves.

Even as Arab countries begin to open up to Assad 12 years after the devastating war began, unrest is occurring in government territory. Suwayda has seen growing protests against the regime since mid-August, which initially began in response to the rise of fuel prices. Similar protests took place in neighboring provinces, including Daraa, as well as in Aleppo in the north.

Meanwhile, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been engaged in violent battles with local Arab tribes in northeast Syria. The clashes first broke out on Monday, one day after the SDF arrested the head and several members of the Deir ez-Zor military council, whom it accuses of multiple crimes and violations. Since then, at least 40 fighters from both sides and 15 civilians have been killed, according to local sources. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in