AMMAN - As per the Russian-brokered reconciliation agreement between the regime and the opposition armed groups in southern Syria in the summer of 2018, the latter have been allowed to keep their personal and medium arms and, consequently, maintain some power in the south.

However, since the reconciliation agreement was concluded, the Syrian regime has sought to undermine the power and influence of former opposition factions, now known as the “reconciliation factions,” through assassinations, abductions, and civilian arrests of military members of the opposition. Additionally, the regime has attempted to disempower the leadership of the “reconciliation factions” through a set of decisions that it claims are meant to regulate these factions and arms in the southern regions.

At odds with this strategy, the power of one former opposition military commander in the area seems to be growing. While four of the reconciliation figures have been killed and three others detained by regime forces since 2018, the power and influence of the founder and commander of the Shabab al-Sunna (Sunni Youth) armed group, Ahmad al-Awda, is rising.

Benefiting from Russian protection, al-Awda’s forces, known now as the Eighth Brigade of the Russian-formed Fifth Corps, confronted government forces on multiple occasions, making him more popular among his supporters, especially in the city of Busra al-Sham in eastern Daraa.

Here, Syria Direct presents a brief biography of the most prominent figures of the opposition in Daraa province who have taken over negotiations with the Syrian regime since the 2018 reconciliation, including those who have been assassinated, arrested or who have left Syria. A set of criteria has been used to select these personalities, namely the role each played before and after the reconciliation and their geographic presence and influence.

 

This report was originally published in Arabic and translated into English by Ahmad El-Amin.