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Protests Rock Government-Held Areas in Southern Syria as Economy Crumbles

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
(AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Protests spread Monday in two government-held provinces in southern Syria amid widespread anger over the crash of the Syrian pound and the dwindling purchasing power of many people in the war-torn country, opposition activists said.

The rare protests are still limited to southern Syria and are far from government strongholds along the Mediterranean coast, the capital Damascus and the largest cities, including Aleppo and Homs.

The protests came a week after Syrian President Bashar Assad issued two decrees doubling public sector wages and pensions, sparking inflation and compounding economic woes for others.

The U.S. dollar has strengthened from 7,000 Syrian pounds at the beginning of 2023 to 15,000 now. At the onset of Syria’s uprising turned-civil war in 2011, the dollar was trading at 47 pounds.

The protests were concentrated in the southern city of Sweida, home to the country’s Druze minority, and the nearby province of Daraa, often considered the birthplace of Syria’s uprising 13 years ago. Sporadic protests in Sweida against the government and corruption have intensified and turned violent, while Daraa, back under government control since 2018, has experienced high crime and clashes between militias.

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