Israeli Druse leader calls on US to bomb ISIS near border

“We request that the Americans would attack Islamic State in this area, just as it is doing in other parts of Syria.”

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June 3, 2015 04:51
3 minute read.
Raqqa

AN ISIS member rides on a rocket launcher in Raqqa in Syria two months ago. (photo credit: REUTERS)

As Syrian Druse near the border with Israel prepare for an assault by Islamic State or other jihadists, the head of the Druse community in Israel called on the US to bomb terrorist positions.

Sheikh Maufak Tarif, the head of the Druse community in Israel, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the country’s Druse call on the governments of Israel and the US to prevent a catastrophe for their brethren across the border in Syria.

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“We request that the Americans would attack Islamic State in this area, just as it is doing in other parts of Syria,” Tarif said. “We meet with the Americans tomorrow to discuss the situation,” he added.

In the past, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he was committed to the Druse and so “we hope he stands behind his word,” continued the Druse leader. He said Israel’s Druse would continuing pressuring the government, and “count on the prime minister and the Defense Ministry to do the right thing.”

President Bashar Assad’s forces are weakening in Druse areas, including near the village of Hader, close to the Israeli border, Channel 1 reported on Sunday evening.

Jerusalem is closely following developments in case Druse flee to Israel from the jihadist threat.

If jihadists were to attack Hader, “I hope the IDF would protect it,” Tarif said, going on to note the risk there. He emphasized, however, that “Druse do not flee from their homes” and would stand and fight if attacked.

Regarding Israel’s position on a possible Druse run on its border, a government official said it is willing to take in a certain number of Syrians for medical treatment, but that they return to Syria when the treatment is done. This continues to be the policy, he said.

Unlike Turkey and Jordan, which have taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Israel is formally in a state of war with Syria.

Mendi Safadi, an Israeli Druse who in the past served as Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara’s chief of staff, told the Post that a resident of the Syrian Druse city of Sweida, close to Jordan, told him in a telephone conversation on Tuesday that Islamic State was approaching and preparing an attack from the east.

Sweida lies on high ground and its residents are watching Islamic State closely. The Sweida resident told Safadi that Islamic State fighters are hiding in caves and are building up a strong force that includes tanks and heavy weaponry.

However, between Islamic State and Sweida there are Beduin, who are fighting the terrorist group, said Safadi, who has traveled in the region and to Europe to meet with Syrian opposition activists.

The Druse in Sweida turned to the local Syrian governor, explained Safadi, and informed him of Islamic State’s threat and demanded that regime forces attack them. The Druse threatened him, saying that if the government failed to attack Islamic State positions, the Druse would turn against the Syrian regime.

Regarding Hader, Safadi says that so far al-Qaida’s Nusra Front is threatening the village, not Islamic State.

“Assad propaganda and actions are seeking to make Islamic State the main opposition force,” argued Safadi, adding that the move is meant to create battles between various minority groups and Islamic State. This serves to slow the terrorist group’s progress and to present the battle as one against terrorism.

Asked if there is a risk of Druse fleeing to Israel, Safadi replied that such a crisis is not imminent now or in the next two months, but “Israel needs to be ready for that situation if it happens.”


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