DRUSE SPIRITUAL LEADER Sheikh Muafek Tarif attends the ceremony honoring the divers on Monday..
(photo credit: AVI MIZRAHI)
Members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front have killed 20 Druse villagers in northwestern Syria, a group monitoring the war reported on Thursday.
The mass killing occurred on Wednesday in the village of Qalb Loze in Idlib province, where the Nusra Front is part of an insurgent alliance that has seized wide areas from government control in the last three months.
The Druse faith is an offshoot of Islam viewed as heretical by the puritanical school of Sunni Islam espoused by al-Qaida.
The incident spiraled out of a confrontation that began when a Nusra Front member tried to confiscate the house of a villager who was fighting with Syrian government forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, citing local sources.
The dead included elderly people and at least one child, the Observatory said. A member of the Nusra Front was also killed when villagers managed to seize a weapon from a Nusra Front fighter.
The dangers posed to Syrian Druse by jihadist fighters have been an utmost concern for their coreligionists across the border in Israel.Last week
Sheikh Maufak Tarif, leader of the Druse community in Israel, told the Post
that the country’s Druse call on both Israel and the US to prevent the catastrophe looming over their Syrian brethren.
Tarif, who met with President Reuven Rivlin in April to address inequalities afflicting Israel's Druse community, had previously mentioned that if Syrian jihadists were to attack the Syrian Druse community of Hader, he would hope that the IDF would intervene on behalf of its inhabitants.
On Wednesday, Rivlin expressed concern to the United States
about the fate of the Druze minority in Syria
, saying around 500,000 of them were under threat from Islamist militants in an area near the Israeli border in southern Syria
Seperately, the head of the Druse and Circassian Forum, Jaber Hamoud, went so far as to chide the international community for their apparent indifference towards the threat of mass persecution of Druse in Syria.
“We are worried about the Syrian Druse and demand that the world not stand by and do nothing,” Hamoud told the 'Post
's' Ariel Ben Solomon.
Hamoud went on to say that if given the arms and means to combat the Islamic State group, the Druse community would band together to prevent the forces of the self-styled caliphate from reaching the borders of Israel and Jordan.
“The Druse love peace, but they know how to defend themselves. They need the means, not knives and axes,” Hamuod said.
Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.