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Albin Szakola

Lebanese Druze party suffers
casualties in Syria’s Golan

Former minister Wiam Wahhab's Arab Tawhid Party says it lost seven members in fighting outside the Quneitra town of Hader.

Fierce clashes raged outside Hader last week. (Facebook/Hadar al-Hadath)

BEIRUT - A Lebanese Druze party that supports the Bashar al-Assad regime has claimed that it suffered a number of casualties in fighting around the Druze-populated town of Hader in Syria’s Quneitra.

 

Former minister Wiam Wahhab’s Arab Tawhid Party issued a statement November 11 that seven members of its Ammar bin Yasser Battalion--named after a companion of the Prophet Mohammad venerated by the Druze--died “confronting armed terrorist groups.”

 

It identified Rami Salem Mustafa, Qassim Fawaz Mustafa, Moeen Kamal Mustafa, Oqab Yahya Albasar, Talih Samih Yaasouf, Ali Ali Yaasouf and Rawad Assad Rakab as all having died “defending our right and land as well as our nation’s pride and dignity.”

 

The Arab Tawhid Party went on to “salute the spirit of the martyrs… and all the [other] righteous martyrs who have fallen defending our people in [the Druze-populated] Jabal Arab and Mount Hermon as well as every inch of Syria in order to maintain its unity.”

 

Hader funeral

Funeral held November 10 for fighters killed in battles outside Hader. (Facebook/Hader al-Hadath)

 

 

Death notices of the seven men mourned by the Arab Tawhid Party began emerging on social media on November 9 amid picked up fighting between insurgents and pro-regime militias around Hader, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported left at least 29 fighters dead from both sides.

 

The martyrdom announcements, however, made no mention of any fighters being members of the Arab Tawhid Party, or its self-declared fighting force in the Syria, the Arab Tawhid Resistance and its Ammar bin Yasser Battalion.

 

None of the seven casualties claimed by the Arab Tawhid Party hailed from Lebanon either, with the death notices from Hader all listing the dead fighters as “sons” of the town, which lies on the foothills of Mount Hermon near the Israeli border.

 

In an example of one of the martyrdom announcements, the Facebook news page for the small village of Maqrusa near Hader hailed Rawad Assad Rakab, calling him one “one of Hader’s heroes who honorably [fought] in Maqrusa in several battles.”

 

Martyr

 

Rawad Assad Rakab. (Facebook/Maqrusa News Service)

 

The Arab Tawhid Party previously claimed it suffered losses in Syria in August 2014, when it said it lost four fighters in a battle that pitted residents of the Suweida town of Dama against Bedouins and Islamist fighters. The pro-Assad party also said it lost five members in fighting around the Mount Hermon of Arna in November 2013.

 

While Wiam Wahhab is known for his bombastic and dramatic statements to Lebanese media, he has not spoken much about his party’s activities in Syria, other than his usual declarations of support for his fellow Druze.

 

In late 2013, his party published a short manifesto on the Arab Tawhid Resistance in Syria, which explained that it aims to defend the Druze in Syria against the “takfiri crackdown,” especially in the foothills of Mount Hermon, which borders Lebanon as well.

 

NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language material. 

Fierce clashes raged outside Hader last week. (Facebook/Hadar al-Hadath)

The Arab Tawhid Party went on to “salute the spirit of the martyrs… and all the [other] righteous martyrs who have fallen defending our people in Jabal Arab and Mount Hermon as well as every inch of Syria in order to maintain its unity.”