The late Sheikh Wahid Al-Balous  of Al-Sweida City was constantly referenced by Syrian Opposition activists as the “voice” for the Syrian Druze of the Al-Sweida Governorate, while never displaying any sympathetic rhetoric for the Islamist militants combatting the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Most of the time, the late Sheikh’s rhetoric was distorted by Syrian Opposition activists to propagate dissent amongst the people of the Al-Sweida Governorate; however, if they were to interview Sheikh Balous’ supporters, they would recant their fabrications about an “armed uprising” against the Syrian Armed Forces inside the province.

Much to the surprise of the Syrian Opposition, the prominent Syrian Arab Army officer, Major General Issam Zahreddine, was in attendance for the funeral of Sheikh Wahid Al-Balous, as he and his eldest son – Yarob – paid tribute to the murdered religious figure.

What does this mean?

Major General Issam Zahreddine is beloved in Al-Sweida and considered a hero to the people; his gallantry on the battlefield has garnered him many loyal supporters, including the three Sheikh Al-Aqls (Durzi religious leaders).

Meanwhile, to the Syrian Opposition, Major General Issam Zahreddine is a “brute” that was labeled the “Durzi beast” for his alleged “crimes” against the Syrian protesters – no evidence of misconduct was ever presented.

Sheikh Balous was outspoken about the conscription of Durzi men into the Syrian Arab Army; but, it had little to do with being unpatriotic and more to do with the fact that Al-Sweida was relatively unprotected.

With ISIS and Al-Qaeda operating inside Al-Sweida’s northern countryside, the fear of genocide left many Durzi civilians concerned over the future of their community and land.

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Sheikh Balous never denounced the Syrian Arab Army, nor did he state his support of the Islamist militants; in fact, many of his pictures were taken with the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic.

When the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and their allies from the Free Syrian Army’s “Southern Front Brigades” attacked the Tha’lah Military Airport in west Al-Sweida; it was Sheikh Balous that was pictured with an assault rifle in preparation for an imminent attack on the Durzi populous of Al-Sweida.

 

 

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Editor-in-Chief Specializing in Near Eastern Affairs and Economics.

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