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Syria: One killed in Suwayda as protests resume against Assad government

The death marks the first time a protester has been killed since the protests in Suwayda began last year over Syria’s dire economic situation.
UWAYDA24/AFP via Getty Images

A protester was killed by security forces in southern Syria's Suwayda on Wednesday, local news outlets and a war monitor reported, as protests resumed in the city.

The local news outlet Suwayda 24 reported that Syrian security forces fired shots to disperse protesters outside a government building in Suwayda. Video posted to X by the outlet shows people chanting, “down with Bashar al-Assad” and what sounds like gunshots.

The outlet reported that two protesters were injured and that one, identified as Jawad al-Barouki, later succumbed to his wounds.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a 54-year-old man died after being shot in the chest. Reuters confirmed there was a death, citing a local medical source.

Why it matters: Anti-government protests began in Suwayda city last August in response to rising fuel prices after the lifting of government subsidies. Pro-opposition media outlets have reported numerous protests in the city since then. 

But the death of a protester on Wednesday is the first since the protests began, according to the observatory.

Suwayda and its surrounding province are largely populated by Syria's Druze religious minority. The Druze community has remained largely neutral since the start of the civil war in 2011 and has been targeted by both the Islamic State and Islamist rebel groups. The protests that began in Suwayda in August are unprecedented.

Know more: The Syrian economy is in disarray due to years of civil war, government mismanagement and corruption as well as US sanctions.

The devaluation of the Syrian pound and high inflation are particularly problematic. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies noted in a December report that the Syrian pound lost 53% of its value in 2023. Inflation in Suwayda was around 30% in August of last year, among the highest rates in the country, according to a report from the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

Assad ordered a 50% pay raise for civil servants and military personnel earlier this month in response to soaring inflation, Agence France-Presse reported.