Armed clashes between locals and regime militia in rural Damascus

Aug 31, 2023

Armed clashes reportedly broke out shortly after midnight on Wednesday night between young men from Zakia, a town in western rural Damascus governorate, and members of a local militia affiliated with the Assad regime’s infamous Fourth Division.

Syria TV reported that the late night clashes followed an attack by residents of the town on the headquarters of the Fourth Division’s ‘Muawiya Tohme’ militia, who started a fire in the building in retaliation for the murder of a local man, 37-year-old Nazir Sha’ban, by one of the militia’s members.

The ‘Voice of the Capital’ website reported that the incident began, yesterday, Wednesday, when a member of the hated ‘Muawiya Tohme’ militia, Jamal Noureddine, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman.

Local informants told the site that Sha’ban was killed to silence him after he discovered that Noureddine and another man named Awad Mattar were involved in the bombing of a maintenance workshop for water wells equipment in the town on August 5.

The locals told the Voice of the Capital that following Sha’ban’s murder, the townspeople attacked the home of the Muawiya Tohme militia leader, with clashes taking place with light and medium weapons, with this fighting then expanding to the attack on and burning of one of the militia’s headquarters building.

Regarding the militia’s attack on the workshop, the Voice of the Capital reported that the militia head had ordered it to be bombed as a result of previous disputes between him and the owners, dating back to the period when the opposition factions took control of the town before 2017.

Following this argument, two members of the Tohme militia reportedly threw a hand grenade at the workshop, killing two young men, aged 16 and 18, working there, a few days after the shop-owner received threats to blow it up under the pretext that he was a former member of the Syrian opposition.