by Nour Samaha, Al Jazeera English
On September 5, Balous, a popular anti-government Druze leader, had just finished eating lunch in a village in Syria's southern Sweida governorate. A short time later, an explosion hit the convoy Balous was travelling in - killing him, his right-hand man, and several others.
As the victims were arriving at the government hospital, there was another blast at the hospital's entrance. More than 25 people were killed and several dozen more were wounded in both bomb explosions. According to SANA, a Syrian state news agency, someone has since confessed to being responsible for the explosions and to belonging to the Nusra Front, one of the rebel groups fighting to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.(...)
According to Tobias Long, a researcher and analyst on minorities in the Middle East, the Druze have limited options moving forward. "It's too early to tell how the situation will play out; the relationship between the Druze and the government won't improve after this because most will accuse the regime of being behind the assassination," he told Al Jazeera. "But on the other hand, there is no other real choice for the Druze of Sweida."
This view was echoed by the Sweida residents with whom Al Jazeera spoke. "It doesn't matter how the opposition tries to paint the government," one resident said. "It's not out of love for the government that Sweida residents are behind it; it is out of complete fear of the opposition."