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Protests Over Growing Economic Hardship Spreads To Southern Syria 

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Protests against Syria’s government are intensifying in the country’s south, amid widespread anger over its decision to cut fuel subsidies when millions of people are already struggling to afford basic goods because of hyperinflation.

A large banner showing President Bashar al-Assad hanging in one of the main squares in the city of Suweida is seen being set on fire in one video shared on social media over the past week.

“We want everyone to come out to the streets across Syria,” says a man in another clip. “We are here against poverty and humiliation, calling for our rights. Everyone should be out protesting.”

AP News reported that crowds have even been filmed calling for the fall of the president, with chants such as “Long live Syria and down with Bashar al-Assad” echoing those of the 2011 pro-democracy uprising that descended into civil war.

Government-held Suweida has witnessed protests against Mr. Assad over the past 12 years, but this is the first time that such slogans have been heard on its streets.

According to reports his regime has long been careful in its dealings with the minority Druze sect whose followers make up most of the residents of the city and its surrounding province. It has tolerated dissent there to a larger degree than it would in other areas under its control.

Some protesters have also been taking place in neighboring Deraa province, where the 2011 uprising began but which was retaken by the government seven years later.

Written by: Elizabeth David

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