Syria, Hizballah torpedo understanding between Druze and Syrian rebel Nusra Front near Israeli border
Syrian ruler Bashar Assad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah have gone all out to stir up adversity between the Druze communitys of the Golan and Israel, and the Syrian rebel Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
To torpedo the armistice deal brokered between them earlier this month by the US, Jordan and Israel, 200 Syrian and Hizballah troops were pumped into the Druze village of Khader on the Syrian Golan, 3 km from the Israeli border. Since Friday, June 26, these troops have been attacking Nusra and the other Syrian rebel groups fighting to capture the Golan town of Quneitra. This has stalled the rebel operation for taking control of the highway to Damascus. Rockets from this battle strayed over to the Israeli side of Golan Sunday.
debkafile’s military sources reveal that Nusra hit back over the weekend. They warned Druze leaders that if they don’t stop cooperating with Assad and Nasrallah, “their blood will be on their heads.” Fighters of this Islamist group then surrounded another, smaller Druze village, Skaska, on the western slopes of Jabal Druze and threatened to go in and massacre its inhabitants.
The Nusra ultimatum, posted Saturday, June 28, made it clear that since Syrian and Hizballah are firing against them from a Druze village, the Druze are held responsible for getting it stopped. Otherwise, they will be deemed collaborators of the Assad regime and in violation of the non-belligerence deal struck between them earlier this month.
Our sources add that Syria and Hizballah accompanied the 200-man force which infiltrated Khader, with Iranian and Syrian television crews and a group of Lebanese Druze members. The footage they showed was intended to demonstrate to the world that Lebanese Druze strongly challenged the Syrian rebel takeover of southern Syria including the Golan, and sided with Bashar Assad.
The fighting is so far low key between the Syrian and Hizballah troops ocupying the Druze village of Khadar and the Nusra Front fighters. But it is estimated by Israeli watchers that an escalation is not far off and, when it happens, the rebel Islamic group will make good on its threat of retribution against the Druze villagers of Skaska.
And then, yet another sensitive corner of the Syrian conflict may go up in flames, possibly putting Israel on the spot again.
Already it looks as though Assad and Nasrallah have succeeded in sabotaging the hard-won armistice deal that the US, Jordan and Israel brokered between the Druze and Nusra Front, by forcing the half million Druze of Syria to choose sides between the belligerents. Whichever it is, they will be clobbered.