Druze delegation headed to Syria to 'meet regime officials' detained at Jordan border by Israel

Druze delegation headed to Syria to 'meet regime officials' detained at Jordan border by Israel
The Druze delegation were heading to Syria when they were detained by Israel.
2 min read
05 September, 2019
The Druze population were stopped at the Jordan border [file photo-Getty]
Israel detained scores of Druze men at the Jordan border on Thursday morning as the delegation sought to meet Syrian regime officials in Damascus, according to Israeli media.

Carrying Syrian flags - now synonymous with Bashar al-Assad's regime - the convoy was stopped by Israel at the Sheikh Hussein border crossing, after the members of the Druze community attempted to enter Jordan with the aim of reaching Syria.

Israeli police said they warned the Druze community not to visit Syria, saying this "would compromise the security of the State and its citizens".

"In the course of an investigation conducted in recent months by the Israel Police in cooperation with the Shin Bet, it emerged that a delegation from the Galilee and Carmel communities intended to visit Syria's enemy state and meet with government officials in contravention of the law," Israeli police said in a statement.

"Despite the warnings, a short while ago at the Jordan River crossing, dozens of people arrived to cross the border from Jordan to Syria. Buses and private vehicles were detained there."

Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post said that 170 Druze men were held at the Jordan border.

Israel's Druze community often serve in the military but many also back Bashar al-Assad's regime. Israel and Syria are officially still at war.

Israel also occupies Syria's Golan Heights where many of the Druze population there remain alligned to the Assad regime.

Syria's state news agency SANA said the Druze delegation were heading to the country to take part in a pilgrimage.

"Israeli occupation authorities prevented a delegation of Sheikhs from the al-Mu'ahid Muslim community in the occupied Palestinian territories from reaching the Sheikh Hussein border crossing with Jordan, before traveling to Syria for a religious visit," the regime news agency reported.

It reported that the delegation were organising a "sit-in" to protest Israel's decision to block their visit to Syria. It did not mention whether the delegation planned to meet regime officials.

Syria has a population of around 800,000 Druze, most living in the mountainous Sweideh region in the south of the country. Jordan also has a smaller Druze population who live mostly near the Syria border.