News / Middle East

Druze Residents Celebrate End of France's Mandate Over Syria

A woman throws rice as other members of the Druze community holding a Syrian flag walk past during a rally marking Syria's Independence Day in the Druze village of Buqata on the Golan Heights, April 17, 2013.
A woman throws rice as other members of the Druze community holding a Syrian flag walk past during a rally marking Syria's Independence Day in the Druze village of Buqata on the Golan Heights, April 17, 2013.
Reuters
Dozens of Druze residents of Bukata village, straddling along the Syrian border, marched waving Syrian flags on the anniversary of the 1946 withdrawal of French troops from Syria that marked the end of France's mandate over an Arab country.

"We are here in solidarity with our mother land Syria as it is the anniversary for the victory [over French occupation in Syria], and as we are Syrian Arabs living on Syrian land occupied by Israel, we stand here in solidarity with the Syrian military and leadership to show solidarity to our country as it is facing a crisis and facing all the world during this crisis," said Fadi Mahmoud, a Druze who lives in Israel.

The tight-knit community who belong to a secretive offshoot of Islam is traditionally a bastion of supporters of Bashar al-Assad though there's little sign of eagerness to live under Assad's regime.

"We are here to share with our relatives at the Golan. As Palestinians we came to the Syrian [occupied] Golan to congratulate Syria on the victory which happened when they pushed away the French Occupation one day," said Nour Badran, a supporter of the Syrian regime. "This is proof that the nation's always awake and the nation's always ready."

Israel annexed the Golan in 1981, a move not recognized internationally. It gave the Druze there, who today number about 20,000, the option of citizenship. Most rejected it.

Syria demands the Golan's return as part of any peace agreement, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is unwilling to go that far.

Two years into the uprising against Assad, government forces are fighting hard to keep control of cities. Many rural areas and provincial towns have fallen to the rebels.

Syria's uprising began as a protest movement against four decades of Assad family rule but has degenerated into an increasingly sectarian conflict that has killed at least 70,000.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid