Exclusive Report: Druze Claim Obama Founded The Islamic State And Jabhat Al-Nusra And Israel Provide ISIS With Weapons

Welcome to Majdal Shams, the largest Druze town in the Israeli Golan Heights and the capital of conspiracy theories.

When I visited the town earlier this year, I noticed a change in the attitude of the residents toward Israel. The Druze I spoke with at the time were very afraid of the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and seemed finally to have reconciled themselves with the fact that they are part of Israel.

Majdal Shams became part of Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967, but the Druze residents always stayed loyal to the Assad regime in Syria. The bloody civil war seems to have poured cold water on the love affair between Assad and the Druze in Majdal Shams.

On Monday I was back in Majdal Shams for a series of interviews with local leaders and residents and for a report about a demonstration against the looming threat of an Islamic State assault on the Druze in the Jabal al-Druze area (Suwayda) in Syria.

Salman Fakhr Eddin, Director of the Al-Marsad Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights, was the first Majdal Shams resident I spoke with. He had prepared several booklets for the interview that dealt with the human rights situation after the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights.

I asked him if there wasn’t a greater human rights problem in Syria at the moment. Although he admitted that there was a problem in Syria, he preferred to talk about Israel and the “crimes Israel committed against the Druze.”

When I confronted him with the fact that Israeli Druze are loyal citizens and overwhelmingly choose to serve in the IDF, he excused himself and said that he had to make an important phone call. Needless to say, he didn’t return.

Samara Suleiman, a resident of Majdal Shams, told me that after the IDF thwarted a terrorist attack by a Hezbollah cell on the Syrian border near Majdal Shams in April, the mood in the town changed.

Two of the four Hezbollah terrorists killed by the IDF were Majdal Shams natives. “The brothers Tair and Nazih Mahmoud, both in their 20s, were born in the Druze village but later moved to the village of Hader in the Syrian Golan Heights,” Ynet reported at the time.

Suleiman said the Druze in Majdal Shams who still support Israel are “bought with money” and that Israel is “only interested in another occupation, this time of Damascus.”

He denied that Assad is on his way out. “To the contrary,” he said, ”he controls much of Syria and not Hezbollah or Iran – they only want to help Assad.”

Suleiman also knew “for sure” that Israel helps Jabhat al-Nusra and even the Islamic State. He told me without a blink of the eye that Israel delivers food, medicine, and weapons to al-Nusra and treats ISIS fighters in Israeli hospitals. When he noticed that I gazed at him somewhat flabbergasted, he asked where I got my information. “Everybody knows this is the truth,” he said.

It was almost 5:00 p.m. and the Druze leadership had organized a demonstration against the Islamic State at the central square in Majdal Shams. When I arrived I noticed huge Syrian flags on the buildings surrounding the square. In the center of the square a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was placed at the pedestal of a monument for Druze leader Sultan al-Atrash, who led the Druze uprising against the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon from 1923-1925.

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The Druze were chanting slogans against the Islamic State and al-Nusra and praised the Syrian dictator.

Watch the video of the demonstration here:

I also interviewed Ibrahim Izz al Din, a Druze resident of Majdal Shams. He claimed that the Druze would be able to expel the Islamic State and al-Nusra from Syria and said that they have the necessary weapons to do this. The weapons were purchased from the U.S. administration and from Assad, whom he called “a dog.” He said they would not take weapons from Israel.

He repeated Suleiman’s claim that Israel treated wounded ISIS and al-Nusra fighters in Israeli hospitals and that Israel supplies weapons to al-Nusra. He also claimed that Obama founded the Islamic State and al-Nusra and called the U.S. president a liar.

He then added that “it was obvious that Obama had founded Islamic State because they are not Muslim at all.”

The evidence? “They would decapitate people and then shout, ‘Allah hu akbar.’ Those are not Muslims or Arabs,” he said.

The Druze are ready to fight, he said, adding that “they have fighters from the age of nine to one hundred years.” He claimed that the Druze can form a standing army of 600,000 men. He also said that, if necessary, “the Druze would open the border themselves and supply the weapons to their brethren in Syria.”

You can watch the interview with Ibrahim Izz al-Din here:

When I left Majdal Shams I was puzzled. These Druze have already been living in Israel for 48 years, but they are still acting as if they are part of a Syria that ceased to exist a long time ago. They apparently think that the Syria of old will return one day and then everything will be fine.

Their behavior stands in sharp contrast to the Druze in Israel who have fully accepted the existence of the Jewish state and have adjusted to Israeli society.

Druze are known for their ability to adjust to the country they are living in, so why do the Druze in the Israeli Golan Heights have such different views from the Druze living in Israel within the “Green Line” (the 1949 armistice lines)?

The answer could be that the Druze community in Syria was torn apart by the Six-Day War in 1967. All Druze living on the Israeli side of the border still have family in Syria.

Until recently, they used to “meet” each other on two hills adjacent to Majdal Shams. There they could have direct contact and they used to shout to each other across the valley. The place was called “Shouting Hill,” but the exchanges have stopped because the area is now controlled by al-Nusra.

And if you wonder how they got brainwashed, they still watch the Assad-controlled Syrian state television.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Exclusive Report From Israel’s New Front In Syria: ‘The Border Of The Islamic State Is Not In Syria And Iraq’

Katzrin is a town in the Israeli Golan Heights some 20 miles from the border with Syria. When I passed the town on my way to the border, I noticed unusual IDF activity in the fields in the vicinity of Katzrin.

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Many tanks and armored vehicles were lined up on the outskirts of a temporary army base. IDF Humvees stood next to the private cars of reserve soldiers who were taking part in an exercise.

Ten miles east of Katzrin, close to Syria, I saw more temporary army bases. Merkava tanks and huge IDF bulldozers were visible from the road to Kuneitra.

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I was approaching the border. At the Kuneitra viewpoint I noticed black flags on top of buildings on the Syrian side of the border. This was a clear sign that Jabhat al-Nusra is now in control of the Kuneitra area. The abandoned United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) buildings on the Syrian side of the border are also in the hands of the al-Qaeda affiliate. The staff of the UNDOF has been relocated to a camp in the Israeli Golan Heights and elsewhere in the north of Israel.

The ‘peace’ that existed on the Israeli-Syrian border for almost 40 years is gone. In the distance I heard explosions now and then. The fighting in the area next to the border has become somewhat subdued since al-Nusra and the Western-backed Free Syrian Army drove out Assad’s army last month.

Most of the fighting today takes place in the Daraa Province and Suwayda, the area where most of Syria’s Druze live. Just today Syrian helicopters dropped barrel bombs on several towns in Daraa. Regime forces also fired missiles on the town of Eastern al-Kark, as reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In Suwayda province, a fierce battle is taking place in the area of the vital al-Tha’ala airbase. The Syrian Observatory reported that eight fighters of the Islamist coalition led by al-Nusra were killed today; but in Kuneitra everything seemed quiet for the time being.

Several people in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli Golan Heights told me the quiet is partly because Israel is in contact with al-Nusra. They said Israel has warned the al-Qaeda branch not to attack the Syrian Druze town of Khader opposite Magdal Shams on the Golan Heights.

I drove to Lake Ram, close to Mount Hermon, where I met Hassan Safadi, a Druze resident of Magdal Shams who is well-informed about the situation in the Syrian Golan Heights. Safadi told me that the Druze in the villages in the Israeli Golan Heights are very suspicious of Israel, but now they have no other choice than to cooperate. Druze leaders have asked Israel to open the border in case the Islamic State launches its anticipated attack on the Druze villages and towns in Suwayda and the Kuneitra area. Safadi said he would prefer that the Druze stay in Suwayda and receive arms and other forms of help.

Safadi also told me that the Druze in Suwayda have established a new militia called Shiugh al Karama (Sheiks of Dignity) and that Israeli Druze and the Druze in the Golan Heights have raised $10 million over the last week to enable weapon purchases for the Druze in Suwayda and Kuneitra. He also reported that 35,000 young Druze in Syria have refused to serve in Assad’s army and now want to fight for the newly established Druze militia.

Druze journalist Hamad Awidat of Majdal Shams reported during the same meeting in a restaurant at Lake Ram that the militia already has 50,000 fighters and that the Druze in Suwayda will launch a preemptive attack on the Islamic State “in the coming days.” He even said that the Druze in Syria, Israel, and Lebanon are able to mobilize a force of 200,000 men to fight against the Islamic State.

Awidat, who works for the Iranian outlet Fars News, told me that the Islamic State is less than two miles away from the border with Israel. Western Journalism was not able to verify Awidat’s report.

Druze IDF Brigadier General Ma’da Hasbani refused to confirm or deny the report in a telephone conversation with Western Journalism yesterday.

Hasbani said that “Israel is not part of the conflict in Syria and should not be part of it. Druze are able and capable of defending themselves. In history Druze were known as good fighters and they are able to defend themselves.”

He also said the Druze will not leave Syria: “They will stay in Jabal al-Arab because a Druze knows that they are the protector of the land and they will not abandon it.” Hasbani also refused to comment on reports that Israel is planning to create a humanitarian buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border in Kuneitra.

Earlier, Druze Deputy Minister of Regional Affairs Ayoub Kara told the Hebrew news site NRG that Israel is carrying out certain “secret efforts to protect the Druze community in Syria.” Kara refused to say more about the matter at the time. “It is forbidden for us to talk about these matters, we are doing everything to help,” he told NRG.

During a meeting at Elyakim Junction, close to the Israeli Druze town of Daliyat al-Karmel, yesterday, Kara seemed to backtrack on his statement to NRG. He told me he does not want Israel to support the Druze in Syria. “They are strong enough,” he said.

He repeated what Hasbani had told me and said, “Israel is not part in this conflict.”

During the same meeting, Kara warned that “the world must understand that the border of the Islamic State is not in Syria and Iraq.”

“They will move to Europe and the United States, so it is in the interest of the whole world to help the Druze and the Kurds in their fight against ISIS,” Kara added.

“Israel is the front of the free world in the war with ISIS. The world must understand that the border is not here. If they fail to understand this it will end as the Third World War,” Kara told me

Today the Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Eizenkot told the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee that the IDF will not sit on its hands in the Golan Heights and “will act to prevent a massive influx of refugees but will also take humanitarian action to prevent a slaughter of the fleeing refugees.”

 

Next report: The world upside down in the Druze town of Majdal Shams on the Israeli Golan Heights

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Syrian Druze Fear For Their Lives After Al Qaeda Branch Massacres 20 Of Their Brethren

Western Journalism is reporting directly from the Israeli-Syrian border where Al Qaeda branch Jabhat al-Nusra controls most of the area. The Islamic State has announced that it will conquer the area soon and has already attacked the Druze living in the Suwayda Mountains close to the Israeli border.

This first report deals with the situation of the Druze community in Syria after Al Qaeda murdered twenty Druze in Northern Syria last week.

Last Wednesday, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda branch in Syria, shot and killed twenty Druze citizens in the village of Qalb Loze in the northern Idlib Province. The massacre raised fears in the Druze community that Islamist rebel groups such as al-Nusra and the Islamic State are gearing up for the annihilation of their (non-Muslim) community.

Al-Nusra killed the Druze after one of their fighters was killed in a shoot-out when the group tried to confiscate a house in the Druze village. Members of Jabhat al-Nusra had first killed the Druze tenant of the house who, they said, was collaborating with Assad’s forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that among the 20 Druze who were shot after the incident, there were elderly people and at least one child. Al-Nusra later issued a statement in which it showed remorse over the killings and announced that the perpetrators of the massacre would have to stand trial before an Islamic court.

Until recently, the Druze minority have succeeded in remaining neutral in the Syrian civil war by keeping a low profile. But after the Islamic State started to make inroads into the southern Suwayda Province and seemed to be preparing for a major assault on Druze villages in the Suwayda Mountains, the Druze started to mobilize.

They know what the Islamic State did to the Assyrian and Iraqi Christians and to the Yazidi community in Iraq, and they fear they will be next in line.

Druze are not Muslims; they have their own faith which has its origins in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and has elements of Buddhism and Hinduism. They have lived in mountainous areas in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel for almost a thousand years and enjoyed relative autonomy in Mount Lebanon during the Ottoman era.

In March, they called upon Syrian President Assad to provide them with weapons and ammunition but to no avail. When the Syrian army started to make preparations to abandon their positions in Suwayda last week, young Druze men stopped an army convoy and tried to confiscate missiles and tanks.

Druze men no longer want to serve in the Syrian army and are reportedly pressing the Druze leaders to form a militia that will be able to defend the Suwayda region against al-Nusra and Islamic State. There are also reports that Druze men deserted from Assad’s army after they learned they would not be deployed in the Suwayda region, but elsewhere in Syria.

Syrian Druze leaders called upon the United States to bomb Islamic State positions in the area and to provide air support in case they have to repel an attack by the Islamist rebel groups.

Druze leaders in Israel called upon the government in Jerusalem to open the border for refugees and to provide aid to the Druze in Syria.

Ha’aretz reported on Sunday that Israel had asked the U.S. to increase aid to the Druze in Syria. The request was made to Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey when he visited Israel last week.

On Sunday afternoon, Ynet reported that Israel is planning to create a buffer zone on the Syrian Golan Heights for Druze refugees in case Islamic State and other Islamist rebel groups conquer the Jabal al-Druze region in the Suweida Province and the Druze town of Khader close to the Israeli border. The report was later erased, probably by order of the military censor in Israel.

Israeli Druze leader Sheikh Moafaq Tarif also asked the U.S. to help the Druze community in Syria. “If the Druze do not live in peace in Syria, those who hurt them will also not live in peace,” Tarif said.

On Saturday, thousands of Israeli Druze took to the streets to demand that Israel and the international community intervene and save the Syrian Druze community from a massacre by the Islamic State.

A resident of the Druze village of Masada on the Israeli Golan Heights told Ynet: “I have family and friends who I’m very worried about and I try to help them in any way I can, I hope that the State of Israel will help them and let them come to Masada. We are all ready to take them into our homes.”

Israeli Druze have always been loyal to the Jewish State, and most of them (82%) serve in the IDF.  The IDF recently decided to disband the Druze Herev Battillion because Druze soldiers want to serve with Jewish soldiers in regular field units.

Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt tried to calm the Druze community in Syria and said the attack in Qaldb Loze was an “individual” incident. Jumblatt also said that the Druze did not need assistance from Israel or from Assad’s army. “Both sides are talking in a sectarian tone, which aims to perpetuate sectarianism and divide the country,”Jumblatt said during a press conference in Beirut.

Wiam Wahhab, another Lebanese Druze politician, seemed less sure that the killings in Qalbd Lose were an isolated incident. Wahhab, who has close ties to the Assad regime, urged all Druze to help their Syrian brethren with money, weapons, and volunteers.

Meanwhile, the news site Syria Direct cited an anonymous resident of Jabal al-Druze who reported that the Druze in the Suwayda mountains have a “high morale and have announced their readiness to fight.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

A Syrian Group Just Hacked The U.S. Army Website And Left This Mysterious Message

Image for representational purposes only.

A group affiliated with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad took responsibility Monday for hacking the U.S. Army’s public website and forcing it offline.

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) sent multiple tweets out Monday with screenshots from images it posted to the Army.mil website. (Scroll down to see one of them.)

One popup message on Army.mil read: “Your commanders admit they are training the people they have sent you to die fighting.”

The message references a training program, which Western Journalism reported about last week, for moderate fighters who pledge to back ISIS, many of whom also oppose the Assad regime. The United States military has avoided any direct confrontation with the dictator in the 10 months since American airstrikes began against ISIS targets in Syria.

The U.S. Army confirmed the hacking of its website on Monday. “Today an element of the Army.mil service provider’s content was compromised,” explained Army Brig. Gen. Malcolm B.Frost. “After this came to our attention, the Army took appropriate preventive measures to ensure there was no breach of Army data by taking down the website temporarily.”

The SEA began tweeting images from the hacked website at 1pm; and at approximately 3pm, the Army took the website down.

SEA has claimed responsibility in the past for breaching military sites and others including the U.S. Army Central Command’s Twitter account last year, as well as the Washington Post’s mobile site earlier this year. In 2013, the group caused a momentary stock market panic when it hacked the Associated Press’ Twitter account and announced the White House had been attacked.

Syrian Electronic Army

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

US-Led Coalition Aiding Al-Qaeda In Syria While Iran Intervenes To Save Assad’s Regime

Lebanese and Israeli media reported over the weekend that Iran has started to bring in Shiite troops to save the Assad regime in Syria. Alex Fishman reported in the Hebrew daily Yediot Acharonot that 1,500 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have arrived in the area of Latakia and in Damascus to oversee military operations against the Sunni Islamist rebels.

Fishman claimed the regime of President Assad has already ceased to exist and that ‘Iran is now in Syria,’ meaning that the Al-Quds Brigades of the IRGC now effectively rule the areas still under Assad’s control.

The Syrian regime controls only 25 percent of the country, but 80 percent of the Syrian population lives in the areas under its control. The regime also controls the national airport near Damascus and the main ports in the country.

The Daily Star in Beirut reported that Iran has sent 15,000 Shiite fighters from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan to the Damascus region and the coastal province of Latakia over the past few weeks. As-Safir news in Lebanon – which is close to Hezbollah – reported today that already 20,000 Shiite fighters have arrived in Syria.

A Lebanese political source told The Daily Star that the new troops are expected to launch a counter-offensive to recapture areas in the Idlib province where government forces have suffered a string of defeats. Idlib is now fully under the control of the Al-Nusra-led coalition of Islamist rebel groups.

As Western Journalism reported last week, the Iranian move was predicted by Al-Quds Brigades commander Qasem Soleimani who made a surprise visit to Syria at the end of May and told reporters then that ‘the world would be surprised by what Iran and the Syrian regime are preparing in the coming days.’

The Lebanese source said the Iranian action has two objectives. One is to boost the morale of government forces and its supporters after Assad suffered a series of setbacks over the last month. The second objective is to achieve new military successes before the end of June. The end of June is also the deadline for Iran and the six world powers to finalize a deal about Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran is expected to receive between $30 and $50 billion in frozen assets immediately upon signing a nuclear agreement with the world powers. Israeli experts and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu have said they expect that most of that money will be spent to aid Iran’s proxies in the current Sunni-Shiite battle in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon and to help the Palestinian terror organizations in their fight against Israel. So Assad’s regime – that was on the verge of collapse last week – must hold on until the nuclear deal is signed, commentators say.

On Sunday, a first success by Iranian and Syrian government forces was reported when they managed to repel Islamic State from the strategically important city of Al-Hasakah in northeast Syria. The city is located between areas in Syria and Iraq that are under Islamic State control. Islamic State had advanced to the outskirts of the city in recent days.

Another stunning development in Syria was reported on Sunday afternoon. U.S.-led coalition airplanes carried out four airstrikes against ISIS in the town of  Suran in the Aleppo province during a battle between Islamic State and the Islamist coalition led by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

The airstrikes marked the first time that the U.S.-led coalition aided non-Kurdish forces in the battle against Islamic State, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP. Islamic State conquered Suran a week ago and has been fighting the al-Nusra-led Islamist coalition in the area ever since.

The last U.S. strike against the al-Nusra coalition dated back to May 20th when 15 al-Nusra fighters were killed in an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Aleppo province. Al-Nusra is blacklisted by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, Islamic State announced that it has set its sights on the Golan Heights and plans to control the Syrian-Israeli border. In a clip that was released last week and aired by Channel 2 in Israel, ISIS warned that it intends to take over the area from Jabhat al-Nusra – that has positions 100 yards from the border with Israel – and the Free Syrian Army that is supported by Israel and the West.

An ISIS terrorist in the clip warned the Free Syrian Army, “I advise you to beware. Why are you fighting under an unknown flag? Why do you not adhere to the laws of Allah and fly his flag?”

“The groups you belong to… have joined the infidels and received aid from them and [together] operate out of a command room in Amman,” he said in a reference to the war room in Amman from where the Western coalition provides intelligence and air support to the Free Syrian Army.

On Sunday evening, the Israeli paper Israel Hayom reported Islamic State is advancing in the direction of the Golan Heights and is only tens of miles away from the Israeli border.

“Within a few days, we will conquer the Syrian border with Israel,” an Islamic State member threatened over the weekend.

Druze in Syria and Israel are becoming increasingly worried about the approaching ISIS forces.

Sheikh Maufak Tarif, the head of the Druze community in Israel, has called upon the U.S. to bomb Islamic State out of the Golan. He said he had met with the Americans to discuss the situation. He also called upon Israel to open the border for Druze refugees in case the Islamic State succeeded in conquering the Druze village of Khader, which is located close to the border with Israel.

A resident of the Syrian Druze city of Sweida told an Israeli Druze leader last week that Islamic State is building up a strong force that includes tanks and heavy weaponry.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth