Saturday, 20 June 2015

Syria's Druze under threat from Islamic State

Syrian regime refuses to support the Druze!

Islamic State fighters are advancing towards Sweida Governorate and now they are few kilometres away from al-Huquf, al-Jnenih and Barek villages in the outskirts of Sweida.On 27 May, There was two delegation from Sweida that visited President Bashar Assad consisting of Druze clerics that are loyal to Syrian regime, the first delegation consisted of Hamoud al-Hanawi and Yousef Jarboa, and the second delegation consisted of Yahya Amer and Hikmat al-Hijri. Both delegations had the same demand which is to support the residence of Sweida with money and weapons.

President Bashar Assad refused to support them with money and weapons because as he said that he doesn’t have enough weapons since the Syrian Arab Army needs them in their battle in different fronts. President Assad asked the delegation for 27,000 youths in Sweida that did not join Syrian Army conscription and he insisted that if they continue to refuse to join the army, then Sweida will receive no military support in their upcoming fight against Islamic State.

Syrian Druze community in Sweida / 

The head of the military intelligence in Sweida, Wafiq Nasser was ordered to form a militia named Der al-Watan [Shield of the Homeland] which is led by Brigadier Nayef al-Aqil who is a former commander of 44th Regiment of the special forces, this militia objective is to recruit all Druze youth and this militia will also collect donations from residents of Sweida and from Druze diaspora so they can prepare themselves for the fight against Islamic State, but many believe that they real objective of this militia is to recruit all Druze youth by force and then send them join to Syrian Army to fight Syrian revolutionaries in other places throughout Syria. 

Druze rebel against Syrian regime control in Sweida

Sweida's elder scholars and clerics have been keeping out of the war since it began in 2011, but now Sheikh Wahid al-Balous is breaking ranks and standing up to the Syrian regime. Sheikh Wahid al-Balous is a leading elder scholar in the Druze community of the Sweida governorate in southern Syria. Wahid al-Balous and his group of militants in Sweida have earned themselves the nickname "the Sheikhs of Dignity" among supporters, who compare them with the other traditional community leaders of “Sheikhs al-Aql” who have supported the Syrian regime since the start of the Syrian war.

"Our dignity is more important than Bashar al-Assad," like he said. He also chose a middle ground between the Syrian regime and the Syrian opposition.

Wahid al-Balous / 

The Sheikh al-Aql is a religious post created by the Ottoman Empire, and its occupants are known to be instruments in the hands of the authorities in the country. Balous' relationship with Sheikhs al-Aql and traditional leaders is not well, not only because of his political position, but because they also want to downgrade anyone who becomes popular at their expense.

Islamic State has recently intensified its attacks on the Druze villages and towns, particularly Sweida which is located in South Syria, Syrian Army withdrew heavy weapons from the Sweida province and leaving its people in direct confrontation with the Islamic State.

Druze stops SAA Armour from leaving Sweida / 

Some Druze that are loyal to President Assad took up arms and formed Jaysh al-Muwahhideen to defend their homes against rebel attacks, while others joined a pro-Assad paramilitary group, the National Defence Forces, which fights alongside the Syrian army.

Jaysh al-Muwahhideen / 

Will Israel intervene to save the Syrian Druze?

For the last months, the leaders of Israel’s Druze community have been expressing their concerns about what may happen in Khader village and Jabel Druze in the Sweida Governorate. Israeli Government refused a request from the leaders of the Druze community in Israel to intervene military to save the Syrian Druze in Syria.

Druze community in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights / AFP

Netanyahu’s government said it clear that Israel will not send military forces to Jabel Druze, far from its border, but it has appealed to the United States with a request to help the Druze living there, along with aid provided by Jordan. Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eisenkot also announced that Israel will not stand by if a massacre takes place there, also the possibility of Druze refugees entering Israel escaping from Islamic State fighters so Israeli army decided they may include setting up an emergency field hospital in no-man’s-land on the Israeli-Syrian border.


Haaretz, How far will Israel go to protect Syria's Druze? (English) – []

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