In the aftermath of Liwa 52’s fall in Daraa Tuesday, Sheikh Hakmet al-Hijri, a Druze religious leader, called for Suwayda province’s young men to join the Syrian army, calling it a “religious duty.” And yet, says Suwayda-based Druze activist Noura al-Basha, “no one has joined yet.” She talks with Syria Direct’s Mouatesm al-Jamal.

What is the reaction in Suwayada today after the release of Sheikh al-Hijri’s statement calling for enrollment in the army inside the province?

“Since this morning, regime officials in every village of Suwayda are announcing over bullhorns the duty of joining for mandatory service and the application of Sheikh al-Hijri’s statements. They are saying that joining for military service is a religious duty. The reaction of Suwayda’s youth is refusal and no one has joined yet.

The Sheikhs of Dignity [another council of anti-regime Suwayda Druze sheikhs] sent out their men with full weapons and I think that this is in order to refuse the mandatory service decision; this is why they are mobilizing. There has not been a dangerous escalation so far, but the regime has concentrated its soldiers at the checkpoints.”

What does it mean that the regime is releasing a statement about mandatory military service via Sheikh al-Hijri?

This means that the regime isn’t able to attract the young men of Suwayda, so they decided to pressure them religiously.”