Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s (AQI) territorial possessions in northwestern Syria include a lot of Druze villages, and reports are emerging that their fighters are forcing the villagers to convert to their brand of Sunni Islam.
Whether or not Druze are technically Muslims is a matter of considerable dispute even within the faith, but their tenets are far afield from the Salafist beliefs of AQI, and that’s made them a target.
The reports of forcible conversion were a major concern across the region, with Israeli Druze saying they are trying to assist their Syrian counterparts’ escape from AQI-held territory.
The Druze predicament mirrors those of several other religious minorities in Syria’s rebel-held north, but while Syria’s Druze population is a small minority of the Syrian population as a whole, they are the single largest Druze community in the world today, meaning they have few places to go.
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