MESOP MIDEAST WATCH MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10405

Wave Of Anti-Regime Protests In Southern Syria: Long Live Syria; Down With Bashar Al-Assad

Several weeks ago a wave of protests and demonstrations broke out in Syria, especially in the Al-Suwayda and Daraa governorates in the south, which are officially under the rule of the regime but where the regime’s security control is weak. The protests include expressions of opposition to the regime and its head, President Bashar Al-Assad, and slogans reminiscent of the first stages of the Syrian uprising in 2011, such as “the people want to topple the regime,” “long live Syria and down with Bashar Al-Assad,” and “Syria belongs to us, not to the Assad family.”  There were also calls to expel Iran and Hizbullah from Syria.

The protests erupted amid a severe economic crisis in the regime-held parts of Syria, involving a shortage of fuel, prolonged daily power and water outages, a steady rise in prices and an almost complete paralysis of commerce in the country.

Websites covering events in the Al-Suwayda governorate, which has a Druze majority, report that the calls for demonstrations were prompted by growing feelings of rage and frustration among the locals. The first demonstration was held on December 4, 2022 in the city of Al-Suwayda and soon turned violent. The security forces fired at demonstrators, and the latter stormed and vandalized the governorate building, and also tore down and trampled pictures of President Assad. Since then there have been several further demonstrations in the governorate, but without violence. The protest was also evident on social media, with users calling for an uprising, for renewing the protests and for overthrowing the regime.

Towards the end of December protests broke out in the Daraa governorate as well. In that region the protesters’ main demand was the release of local residents imprisoned by the regime.  The protests included anti-regime slogans and the raising of the Syrian revolution flag. Like in Al-Suwayda, protesters also called for the withdrawal of Iran’s and Hizbullah’s forces from Syria.

On December 27 it was reported that anti-regime slogans had been sprayed on walls in the Al-Midan neighborhood in the capital Damascus, as well as in the towns of Al-Hajr Al-Aswad and Al-Kiswa in the Damascus area. Some of the slogans called for the ouster of the regime and others decried the high cost of living and the corruption in the country. 

It should be noted that Al-Suwayda and Deraa governorates have seen several waves of anti-regime protests since the regime regained its control over them in 2018. This report reviews the recent protests against the Syrian regime in these  governorates.

Protesters In Al-Suwayda Chant Slogans Against Assad, Tear Down His Picture

As stated, in the recent weeks the deteriorating economic situation in Syria sparked a wave of demonstrations in the Druze-majority governorate Al-Suwayda. The first and most significant demonstration took place on December 4, when several dozen people protested in front of the governorate building in the city of Al-Suwayda, calling to overthrow the Assad regime for its handling of the economic crisis. The regime’s security forces fired in the air to disperse the demonstrators, who responded by torching a security forces vehicle. The growing tension eventually led the security forces to fire directly into the crowd, killing one of the demonstrators. This sparked riots in which a police officer was killed and 18 people were wounded.
Demonstration in front of the Al-Suwayda governorate building (images:, December 4, 2022)

Demonstrators torch a security forces vehicle (image:, December 4, 2022)

Several protesters also broke into the governorate building, vandalized furniture, stole documents and started fires.One of them tore down and trampled the picture of Assad that hung at the front of the building.Another burned a flag of Russia, Assad’s ally, which the protesters hold partly responsible for the dire economic situation in Syria.

A demonstrator tears down a picture of Bashar Al-Assad,  another tramples a picture of the previous president, Hafez Al-Assad (images:,, December 4, 2022)

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