Fighting among pro-Assad groups points to factional future

The Daily Star reports: Fierce clashes erupted between pro-Assad militias from the National Defense Forces and the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party in Homs this week in an unusually public confrontation between allies.

The skirmish, which left one person dead according to activists, came in the wake of a landmark deal that saw the last remaining anti-Assad fighters surrender the city last week. The deal was seen as an important victory for Bashar Assad, crowning a string of recent gains and as he campaigns for re-election in a presidential vote to be held on June 3, on a platform of restoring security and stability.

In the days following the deal, Homs residents have flooded back to their battered and abandoned homes in the Old City, where the rebels had been penned in under an intense government siege for over two years. But the city remains deeply divided, and the days following the deal have also seen intense looting and vandalism by vengeful elements of NDF paramilitaries and others, according to dozens of reports circulated on social media and residents’ testimony.

While it remains unclear what triggered the firefight in the Hamadieh neighborhood of Homs, the incident has served to highlight the chaotic and acrimonious conditions in the city, and the challenges that factionalism and rivalry present to any lasting settlement.

Some reports suggested the battle broke out after NDF troops looted Christian homes. [Continue reading…]

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