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“Military coup” in rebel-held Syria town

The leader of the Shabab al-Sunna division was swiftly deposed Wednesday in Daraa's Bosra al-Sham.

Residents rally in Bosra al-Sham. (image via Bosra al-Sham Media Office)

BEIRUT – Rebels in a faction exerting control over a Daraa town have sacked their leaders following a wave of popular discontent, a dramatic move described by activist media as a “military coup.”

 

On Wednesday, fighters in Shabab al-Sunna Division—a faction in the Free Syrian Army-affiliated Southern Front coalition—stormed the headquarters of their group in Bosra al-Sham, an ancient south Syrian town listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

 

The move came amid a series of protests that morning by the town’s residents, who shut down roads and erected checkpoint in anger over “transgressions” committed by the Shabab al-Sunna Division and its leader Ahmad al-Auda, according to activists.

 

Only the day before, a number of Shabab al-Sunna fighters stormed the house of Mohammad Tohme, one of Auda’s deputies, and beat his father before shooting his brother three times, leaving him in critical condition, Syrian Mirror and a number of other pro-rebel outlets reported.

 

Tohme’s followers in Shabab al-Sunna took swift revenge for the violent incident, seizing control over the group’s headquarters as well as ammunition and weapon caches, after Auda and his supporters fled as residents took to the streets.

 

The Shabab al-Sunna Division’s military council then met and officially handed over leadership of the group to Tohme and an associate of his named Bilal Droubi, a handover a number of pro-rebel accounts and activists called a “military coup.”

 

Bosra al-Sham’s self-declared Civil Society group announced its “full satisfaction and supporting for holding to account and chastisement of the oppressors who have wreaked havoc.”

 

“Today, residents breathe a sigh of relief and ask God to protect Bosra.”

 

Meanwhile, Sheikh Abu Bakr Fares, a former jurist for Shabab al-Sunna, expressed “his happiness” over the turn of events, adding that he warned the deposed leaders that “corruption and injustice against the people has become unbearable.”

 

As calm settled over the town—which was seized by rebels in March 2015—the south Syrian opposition’s judiciary (Dar al-Adl) stepped into the fray and ruled that deposed Shabab al-Sunna leader Ahmad al-Auda was to be placed under house arrest, until the court demanded his handover.

 

NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language material. 

Residents rally in Bosra al-Sham in March 2016. (image via Bosra al-Sham Media Office)

Today, residents breathe a sigh of relief and ask God to protect Bosra.