Golan Heights Druze pledge loyalty to Syrian president
Arab Druze residing in the occupied Golan Heights have gathered at the border with Syria in a show of solidarity with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad marking the Arab country’s victory in the war.
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The crowd marked the Saturday event by wearing their traditional black garbs and white hats while waving Syrian flags and pictures of Assad. The gathering Druze shouted support for the president into megaphones and were answered by Syrian soldiers who were standing behind a security fence on the opposite side of the border.
The Druze are an Arab religious minority who practice an offshoot of Ismaili Islam and are known to have historically good relations with the ruling government in Syria.
Some of Syria's Druze population, however, fell under Israeli control after the Golan Heights were occupied by Israel in the 1967 Third Arab-Israeli War. The territory was officially annexed in 1981 by Tel Aviv in a move that was never recognized by the international community.
Today, more than 20,000 Arab Druze continue to live in the occupied land. The population has been pressed to apply for Israeli citizenship but the offer that has been turned down by 90 percent of the community.