Faction Fight in Southwest Syria After Bombing Kills at Least 20

Group accuses rivals of roadside bombing Saturday that killed children

A roadside bombing in the southwest Syrian town of Sanamayn on Saturday killed at least eight children. The incident was in the Deraa region, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights accused a pro-government militia of planting the bomb in a failed assassination attempt.

Speculation about which group was behind the bombing erupted on Sunday into fighting in the town, and left 20 dead, including 12 fighters from two rival factions, the one accusing the other of the bombing.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while often providing useful information on casualties, is known to skew toward an anti-Assad perspective, so blaming pro-government fighters must be taken with a grain of salt.

One of the factions, led by Ahmed al-Labbad, a former member of Syrian state security agency, was accused of planting the device, and while denying this, his rival group went after him, torching his home and killing a woman and two children in his family.

The rival factions, led by a former ISIS member, stormed Sanamayn and in going after Labbad’s home, started a major fight which raged for part of Sunday.

Deraa was one of the first regions to experience unrest during the start of the Syrian Civil War. They had a presence by Islamist militants before a deal was brokered which would see the militants relocated to Idlib, and left Deraa only loosely controlled.

With fears that ISIS might be making a recovery, it is only natural that Deraa would be a target for them, and while they are one of the immediate suspects for the bombing on Saturday, it seems the former ISIS member used his armed faction to go after a rival instead.

Local police were quick to blamed an unnamed group of “terrorists” for the bombing, though the police don’t appear to have been involved in today’s clashes. As we saw from today, armed factions remain influential in Deraa.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.