BEIRUT: Tawhid Party chief Wiam Wahhab Thursday urged Druze to form an armed force to defend themselves after at least 20 members of their community were killed by Nusra Front militants in northwest Syria.
“We will not accept to sell Druze blood!” Wahhab, a former minister, said in an angry televised speech.
“[The Druze in Syria] are ready to defeat the terrorists, but what they lack is arms. Lebanon’s Druze are ready to help, we are ready to form an army of 200,000 fighters to defend the Druze.”
Wahhab’s comments come one day after at least 20 Druze men and women were killed by militants from Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the village of Qalb Lawzah, in Idlib province.
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, who is politically opposed to Wahhab and staunchly supports Syria's rebels, said a Druze religious council would hold and emergency meeting Friday on the incident.
“Any inciting rhetoric will not be beneficial, and you should remember that Bashar Assad’s policies pushed Syria into this chaos,” Jumblatt wrote on Twitter.
Jumblatt also called for reconciliation between the Druze and the Sunni communities in the southern Deraa province.
In August, Druze villagers from the southern province of Swaida fought deadly clashes with Nusra-backed Bedouins from nearby Deraa.
Jumblatt has since intensified his anti-Assad stance, calling on Druze to join Syria's rebels.
In his Twitter remarks Thursday, Jumblatt cautioned political figures against attacking the rebels, fearing that criticism of their actions would lead to more violence against Druze in Idlib.
But Wahhab lashed out at the Nusra Front and its allies who attack Druze in Syria's northwestern and southern regions.
“The people of Deraa are our brothers, but my problem is with the criminal foreigners who came to Syria,” he said. “Anyone who deals with the Nusra Front is unwelcome in Lebanon... Whoever kills us in Idlib, we will kill him in Lebanon. We will not allow any Nusra Front member to stay.”
Wahhab called on Assad to arm Druze communities in Syria, especially those of Swaida.
“Swaida needs weapons, and the Syrian state is responsible for any delay in armament,” Wahhab said. “The Druze only need the weapons, training and organization,” he added, calling for creating an operations room in Swaida, and underlining the readiness to send fighters from Lebanon.
A longtime supporter of Syria's government, Wahhab said Druze should belong to the “axis of resistance” to protect themselves.
“You have men amongst you. Head for the arms. Only arms can protect you, and not silly words and statements,” he said. “You have carried swords to defend yourselves for hundreds of years, now I ask you to carry rifles.”