2018 As-Suwayda attacks

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2018 As-Suwayda attacks
Part of the 2018 Southern Syria offensive of the Syrian Civil War
As-Suwayda in Syria (+Golan hatched).svg
Location of As-Suwayda Governorate within Syria
LocationAs-Suwayda Governorate, Syria
Date25 July 2018
Attack type
Suicide bombings, shootings, hostage taking
WeaponsSuicide vests, Automatic weapons
Deaths258 (+63 attackers)
Non-fatal injuries
180
Perpetrator Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The 2018 As-Suwayda attacks were a string of suicide bombings and gun attacks that took place in and around As-Suwayda, Syria on 25 July, killing at least 258 people and injuring 180 others. The attacks were committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and largely targeted Syria's Druze minority.[1][2]

Attacks[edit]

The attackers began by assaulting defensive positions in the city. When they depleted their ammunition, they detonated their explosive vests.[3] The Syrian Arab News Agency reported two separate suicide attacks in Suweida, with security forces killing two other attackers before they could blow themselves up, and arresting another. Groups of militants also attacked areas in the Al-Mushannaf nahiyah in a coordinated assault, gaining temporary control of several settlements and seizing hostages. Pro-government forces later retook the villages of Duma, Tima and al-Matouna with support from the Syrian Air Force.[4] A substantial number of Druze militias were involved in driving the ISIL forces back, most notably the Rijal al-Karama movement and the Mountain Brigade, one of whose sub-commanders (Sheikh Abu Mu'annis Nabil Saymu'a) was killed in course of the fighting. The Christian SSNP also aided the local pro-government defenders, while the Syrian Army only arrived in the area after the combat had already ended.[5]

A suicide bombing in a vegetable market in the capital of the province, Al Suwayda, resulted in at least 38 casualties.[3][6] Following the attack, three captured ISIL fighters were publicly hanged by the angry local Druze people in the provincial capital.[7]

Casualties[edit]

Initially, the head of the Sweida health authority told the pro-Damascus Sham FM radio some 96 people were killed and 176 wounded in total.[4] Later, the director of health updated the number of deaths and injuries and said that 215 people were killed and 180 others injured in the attacks.[8] The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reported 258 deaths (142 civilians and 116 government fighters), in addition to 63 ISIL fighters.[9][10] Also, between 14-20 and 36 Druze women and children were abducted by ISIL fighters during the raid, and taken to their holdouts in the desert. Afterward some managed to escape while several died in captivity. ISIL executed all the Druze men they've captured.[11][12] ISIL executed several Syrian army soldiers and NDF members captured during the raid, posting videos of their executions on the Internet.[13] ISIL had threatened to execute the captured Druze women if the Syrian army didn't stop their offensive against ISIL in the Yarmouk basin in western Daraa province.[14][15]

Aftermath[edit]

As-Suwayda Governor Amer al-Eshi reported that the city had been secured by evening. The state-run television station, Ikhbariyah TV, reported that the Syrian Air Force has launched a bombing campaign on ISIS-held villages of al-Matouna, Duma, and Tima.[16] On the 31st of July 2018, in exchange for the release of the Druze women captured by ISIL in the raid in eastern Suweida, the Syrian Army evacuated hundreds of ISIL fighters from the Yarmouk basin in western Daraa to their strongholds in the Badiya region in eastern Syria Desert.[17][18] Many Druze people were very angry with the Syrian Military because of the incompetent security measures in Suwayda province, accusing the Syrian Government of deliberately allowing the attacks so that they can have a casus belli to reimpose stricter government control over the Suwayda province and end the Druze autonomy, especially because the attack was made by ISIL fighters evacuated from Southern Damascus to Eastern Syria Desert in May 2018.[19]

Afterwards, the Syrian government offered a deal to ISIL, that the 30+ captured Druze civilians will be swapped in the prisoner exchange for over 200 ISIL fighters of Jaysh Khaled bin Walid who surrendered in southwestern Daraa on 31st of July 2018, however ISIL forces in Badiya region refused the prisoner exchange, and instead requested a large sum of ransom money for the release of the captured Druze civilians, which the Syrian army refused to pay.[20] In order to pressure the Syrian government to pay the ransom, ISIL executed on one of the male Druze civilians captured in the raid on August 2nd, and posted the video of his execution on the internet.[21][22] In response, the Syrian army threatened ISIL forces in Badiya region that if they did not release the captives, that they would be destroyed in the upcoming military operation in Badiya al Sham region.[23][24]

Reactions[edit]

  •  Egypt: Saad el Gamal, chairman of the Committee for Arab Affairs in the Egyptian Parliament, condemned the attacks while suggesting that foreign interference in Syrian internal affairs "offers a cover for terrorists".[25]
  •  Rojava: The YPG released a statement on August 4th condemning the attacks and calling for further actions against IS: "The attack reveals once again the true face of IS and shows clearly that this terrorist group must be destroyed as soon as possible".[26]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Syria war: More than 200 dead in suicide attacks". BBC. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  2. ^ Al-awsat, Asharq. "ISIS Commits Massacre in Syria's Sweida as Toll Rises". aawsat.com (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Khadder, Kareem; el Sirgany, Sarah (25 July 2018). "ISIS says it's behind the attacks in Syria that killed 166". CNN. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Islamic State kills 215 in southwest Syria attacks: local official". Reuters. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  5. ^ Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (27 July 2018). "The Suwayda' Attacks: Interview". Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  6. ^ https://aoav.org.uk/2018/suicide-bomber-kills-at-least-38-in-syria-city-of-sweida/
  7. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isis-executes-captured-syrian-soldiers-after-devastating-terrorist-attack-in-sweida/
  8. ^ "Update: Death toll of IS attacks in Syria's Sweida rises to 215". www.xinhuanet.com. 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  9. ^ "More casualties raise to 258, the number of people killed in the bloody and violent attack by ISIS east of al-Suwaidaa". The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 1 August 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
    After the execution of about 50 members of Jaysh Khalid Ibn al-Walid and their families, the file of releasing abductees of al-Suwaidaa hinders and renewed efforts take place between ISIS and the regime to find a new solution
  10. ^ "IS leaves Syria Druze reeling from heaviest losses of war". Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  11. ^ http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2018/Jul-30/458410-36-women-children-kidnapped-by-daesh-last-week-in-syrias-swaida-activist-group.ashx
  12. ^ https://www.mideastcenter.org/research-blog/new-details-of-isis-attack-on-suwayda-the-hundreds-killed-14-druze-women-kidnapped
  13. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isis-executes-captured-syrian-soldiers-after-devastating-terrorist-attack-in-sweida/
  14. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/video-isis-threatens-to-slaughter-women-captives-unless-army-halts-west-daraa-offensive/
  15. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isis-threatens-to-burn-alive-women-children-kidnapped-from-al-sweida/
  16. ^ McKernan, Bethan (25 July 2017). "Isis suicide bombings in Syria kill 215 in deadliest attack in months". The Independent. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  17. ^ https://syria.liveuamap.icom/en/2018/31-july-multiple-sources-and-witnesses-reporting-100s-of[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/defeated-isis-in-yarmouk-basin-evacuated-to-syrian-desert-photos/
  19. ^ https://www.mideastcenter.org/research-blog/new-details-of-isis-attack-on-suwayda-the-hundreds-killed-14-druze-women-kidnapped
  20. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-military-to-isis-release-sweida-prisoners-or-we-will-destroy-you/
  21. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isis-releases-footage-of-19-year-old-student-executed-in-al-sweida/
  22. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isis-executes-first-hostage-from-al-sweida/
  23. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-military-to-isis-release-sweida-prisoners-or-we-will-destroy-you/
  24. ^ https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-armys-elite-unit-heads-to-sweida-to-finish-off-isis/
  25. ^ "Parl't committee slams terrorist attack on Syria's As Suwayda". The Egyptian Gazette. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  26. ^ "YPG condemns the brutal attack on the people of Suwayda". ANF News. 4 August 2018. Retrieved 8 August 2018.