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Rania Khalek @RaniaKhalek
, 13 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
1 While the lack of accurate on the ground reporting and the chaos of first reports makes it hard to know what happened in Sweida and why, here is what we can say so far.
2 Sweida was vulnerable to attack because it was not fully under the control of Syrian security. As a concession, the regime had given the Druze of Sweida a degree of local autonomy including their own local security.
3 Sweida was also a hub for smuggling. This included smuggling from east Sweida villages towards tribal areas formerly controlled by ISIS that still have ISIS pockets and included smuggling from south west Sweida to opposition areas in Daraa city and west Daraa province.
4 So Sweida was very porous and insecure. Druze villagers had grown accustomed to smuggling and cooperating with tribal Arab Sunnis and villagers with impunity.
5 Meanwhile they were lulled into a false sense of security because before the latest regime offensive both ISIS networks and opposition networks needed Sweida as a smuggling hub and so they did not attack it.
6 Attacking it would've led to an increase in security and it would have been more militarized. Unlike in Lebanon there is no centralized leadership from the Druze. It’s atomized village by village and so less coordinated.
7 During the war the poor villages on the outskirts by the desert made a lot of money through smuggling. There were sleeper cells inside Sweida who participated in what was a combined infantry and suicide attack like in Iraq, attacking people and then detonating themselves.
8 It seems like many of the attacks came from the Ruqban area, nominally under the security umbrella of the Americans in the Tanf base. One attacker was captured alive. It's possible that the ISIS suspects who were hung were merely innocents caught up in the mob panic.
9 It appears as though the attack was launched from east Sweida and the attackers had hoped to hold parts of the city but that there were also sleeper cells inside the city. Sweida checkpoints would let cars go through as long as there was someone from Sweida in the vehicle.
10 In the past smuggling was done with ease. The truck with a Sunni driver would approach the Sweida checkpoint run by local Druze. A Druze guy would jump in next to the driver and then they would enter Sweida unsearched.
11 Or the driver would merely leave the vehicle by the Sweida checkpoint, unsearched, take 30,000 Syrian pounds and a Druze guy would drive it in.
12 A car with five Bedoin guys in it would not be searched as long as there was one Druze guy with them. Official regime security only checked vehicles leaving Sweida for Damascus, but not cars entering Sweida with a Druze guy in them.
13 Likely now there will be an increase in security procedures but also innocent Sunnis might be targeted due to the militia atmosphere in Sweida and lack of direct regime security control.
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