BEIRUT: A leading rebel commander has met with Druze sheikhs in the northern province of Idlib and received praise for his “moderation.”
The sheikhs met with Jamal Maarouf, who heads the Syria Rebels Front, which is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army.
In a video posted this week of the encounter, Maarouf is seen talking to a group of sheikhs in a room, as he says that anyone espousing sectarian or other types of “division” is unwelcome within rebel ranks.
“No matter what his [ethnic or sectarian] affiliation is, any Syrian citizen … and the Syrian people – they’re all my brethren,” he said.
“This is the first time we’ve heard such talk,” one of the sheikhs responded. “We’ve seen extremism, as you know,” the sheikh continued.
“When someone speaks moderately, and is concerned with the nation, then anyone who is sane will support him.”
Idlib is home to more than a dozen Druze villages, whose residents have largely been spared direct involvement in the 3-year-old civil war. Maarouf is also from the province.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 10, 2014, on page 10.