Golan Druze March for Assad

YERUSHALAYIM -

Druze residents in the Israeli Golan Heights made a show of support for Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday, as hundreds marched in protest over airstrikes against suspected chemical weapons sites, the AFP reported.

An estimated crowd of over 500 waving Syrian flags and carrying portraits of Assad rallied in the village of Ein Qiniye, about 10 miles from the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights.

Among the slogans chanted were “Bashar defeated the terrorists” and “Bashar beat the American bombers,” which omitted reference to British and French participation in the weekend strike on chemical sites.

Israeli officials say there are about 20,000 Druze on the 460-square-mile plateau that Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War and formally annexed in 1981.

Israel and Syria are still officially in a state of war.

Living alongside some 20,000 Israelis, the vast majority of the Golan Druze retain Syrian nationality and have family ties to Druze in Syrian government-controlled territory.

Another 110,000 Druze live in the Galil, where most have Israeli nationality and perform compulsory military service, unlike other Arab citizens.