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PSP leader warns Druze in Syria against joining paramilitary force

A Lebanese Druse leader Walid Jumblatt lights a candle and hold paper with Arabic words read: " Homs" during a vigil sit-in against the Syrian regime and to show his solidarity with Syria people in Homs, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt warned Syrian Druze against joining a paramilitary force formed recently by the Syrian regime Monday, reiterating his call for them to participate instead in the Syrian uprising.

“Any reckless move such as joining the so-called National Defense Army will endanger [the Druze] political and physical presence in all Syrian districts,” Jumblatt said in his weekly editorial in Al-Anbaa newspaper.

“We call on them once again to participate in the revolution and refrain from joining this destructive project [the National Defense Army],” added the Druze leader.

Jumblatt said that the Syrian regime was setting an example once again in its ongoing attempts to provoke a civil war between Syrians by inciting neighboring areas and sects against each other and was doing it in order to drive attention away from the behavior of the regime.

“The establishment of the so-called National Defense Army would fulfill the goals of the regime and pave the way for the civil war ... and makes it very hard to end it, particularly as there are no signs for an international settlement [for the crisis],” he said.

“We call once again on the Druze to reaffirm their national and historical heritage in confronting injustice, and [their] role in protecting the unity of Syria with all other freedom fighters,” the PSP leader added.

Jumblatt saluted Syrian Druze rebel Khaldoun Zeineddine who was killed last week in a battle against Syrian regime troops. The Druze leader also praised Sheikh Naim Hasan, the Druze spiritual leader in Lebanon, for holding a memorial for Zeineddine in Aley Sunday.

Arab Tawhid Party leader Wiam Wahhab had criticized the memorial in a televised interview and said that holding prayers for Zeineddine in Aley was “silly.”

“There is an agreement that tension in Syria does not spill over into Lebanon and what happened in Aley is an alarm bell and reflects the intention of some groups to move tension [from Syria] to Lebanon,” he said.

Wahhab wondered whether Hasan had gotten information about Zeineddine before holding prayers. “Khaldoun Zeineddine was planning to blow up two bakeries and a gas station in Swaida,” he said. He called on Druze sheikhs to punish Hasan, who he said was following “certain orders.”

Wahhab, a rival of Jumblatt, called on people of the predominantly Druze province of Swaida to join the Syrian Army to protect the province and all Syria.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 29, 2013, on page 3.

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