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Common analysis
Last updated: September 2020

[Main COI references: Security 2020, 2.14 ]

The governorate of Sweida is located in the southern part of Syria. It borders Dar’a and Rural Damascus and has an international border with Jordan. It consists of three districts: As-Sweida, Shahba and Salkhad. The Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that the population in the governorate of Sweida in mid-2016 was 509 000. The governorate of Sweida is the most important home region of the Druze minority, which make up 91 % of its population.

During the revolution and the ensuing conflict, the governorate of Sweida has remained neutral. The Druze population in Sweida has been treated with ‘caution’ by the GoS as a ‘politically sensitive minority’, and large-scale mass arrests and bombings have largely been avoided in Sweida. Even though Sweida remained officially under government control during the conflict, most of the military and civil authority in the governorate is exercised by local political and military factions preoccupied with defending it from outside attackers.

ISIL’s presence in the country reduced significantly in 2018. However, it was reported that ISIL was regrouping in the Badia desert near Sweida and remained able to carry out terrorist attacks against civilians in the governorate. On 25 July 2018, ISIL committed coordinated attacks in several villages in eastern rural Sweida and in the city of Sweida, resulting in the killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians.

Since August 2018, the conflict progressively moved to the south and southeast part of the region, particularly in an area between the cities of Dar’a and Sweida. Attacks on government forces and pro-government militias by ISIL and other unknown perpetrators were reported, as well as clashes between government forces and ISIL. Reported incidents included IED attacks and suicide bombings, mainly carried out by ISIL, as well as assassinations and kidnappings by unidentified actors. Airstrikes by the Israeli forces were also reported.

ACLED recorded 74 security incidents (average of 1.4 security incidents per week) in Sweida governorate in 2019, the majority of which coded as battles and incidents of violence against civilians. In the first two months of 2020, the number of security incidents in the governorate was 4, amounting to an average of 0.5 security incident per week. Most of the security incidents occurred in Sweida district.

In 2019, VDC recorded a total of 4 civilian fatalities and SNHR recorded a total of 11 civilian fatalities in the governorate. Compared to the official figures for the population in the governorate as from 2016, this represents less than 1 or 2 civilian fatalities per 100 000 inhabitants.

According to the UNOCHA, there were 362 IDPs arrivals to the governorate of Sweida in 2019. For the same period, there were no reports of IDP departures from the governorate or displacement within the governorate. In 2019, around 2 000 persons returned to or within the governorate of Sweida.

In terms of further impact on the civilian population, it has been reported that criminality is widespread in Sweida, including drug smuggling, armed robberies, looting, kidnapping and human trafficking.

Looking at the indicators, it can be concluded that indiscriminate violence is taking place in the governorate of Sweida, however not at a high level and, accordingly, a higher level of individual elements is required in order to show substantial grounds for believing that a civilian, returned to the territory, would face a real risk of serious harm within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD.