Al-Qaeda’s Syrian faction, Jabhat al-Nusra, has cobbled together a little emirate of its own in northwestern Syria, holding virtually the entire Idlib Province and parts of both Aleppo and Latakia. While they are trying to present themselves internationally as the more “moderate” Islamist statelet carved out of Syria, they seem just as eager to persecute religious minorities as ISIS does.
Today, al-Qaeda forces attacked the village of Qaib Lawzah, near the Turkish border, initially attempting to seize the home of a Druze man they claimed was secretly in league with the Syrian government. The situation escalated when other locals tried to resist, and al-Qaeda reinforcements moved in, killing at least 20 villagers.
The Druze have traditionally been semi-loyal to the Assad government, and in these areas of the country far outside of Assad’s control, that’s becoming a liability, with Druze leaders having a serious debate about how best to weather the storm.
The Druze religion falls in the Judeo-Christian-Islam milieu, and is considered heretical by al-Qaeda and other more serious Islamist factions. The group is a small minority in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, and in each country tends to try to avoid serious involvement in political disputes. With the Syrian Civil War expanded ever more, that’s just not possible in Syria anymore, as many rebels view lack of involvement as tacit opposition to their rebellion.