Druze Face Hard Choices Picking Sides in Battle for Southern Syria

Members of Israel's Druze minority wave their flags during a march in support of Syria's Druze, Yarka, Israel, June 14, 2015 (AP photo by Ariel Schalit).
Members of Israel's Druze minority wave their flags during a march in support of Syria's Druze, Yarka, Israel, June 14, 2015 (AP photo by Ariel Schalit).

In 1925, Syrians rose up against their French colonial authorities. The revolt started in southern Syria, in the rugged homeland of the Druze, an esoteric religious sect with roots in Shiite Islam. Druze rebels near the town of Suwayda shot down a French surveillance plane, and before long a full-scale rebellion spread to Damascus and farther north, led by a Druze leader, Sultan al-Atrash, who became a nationalist hero in Syria. Nearly 90 years later, the Syrian uprising that began in 2011 also got its spark in southern Syrian—not in the Druze homeland, but in the dusty border town of […]

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