STORY: “People want to overthrow the regime.”
That’s what these Syrian protesters were chanting outside the governor’s office in the southern city of Sweida on Sunday.
Fueled by anger over spiraling prices and worsening economic hardship, the demonstrators held up signs demanding their rights and asking to live with dignity.
In a video released by local website Suwayda 24, this man could be heard shouting to the authorities, “You see how people are dying from starvation.”
Later, dozens of people stormed the building in the center of the Druze-majority city.
Syrian state media called them "outlaws" and said they set fire to files and official papers.
Witnesses told Reuters the governor was not in the building.
And that once inside, protesters brought down pictures of President Bashar al-Assad.
Security forces clashed with the protesters.
A civic activist and editor of Suwayda 24, told Reuters there was heavy gunfire, and that several people were wounded.
A hospital source said at least one civilian had died from gunshot wounds.
Syria’s Interior Ministry said demonstrators also tried to seize the city’s police headquarters, and that one officer was killed in the ensuing clashes.
In a statement, the government said:
"We will pursue all the outlaws and take all legal measures against anyone who dares to undermine the security and stability of the province.”
Anti-government demonstrations have been rare since Assad crushed pro-democracy protests over a decade ago.
And Sweida province has been spared the resulting violence seen in other parts of Syria, with the minority Druze sect resisting being drawn into the long-running conflict, which pits mainly Sunni rebels against Assad's rule.