Israeli army offers rare pledge of help to embattled Syrian Golan village

Sheikh Mowafak Abu Tariff the chief spiritual leader of the Druze in Israel and former minister Saleh Tarif with Northern Divison commander Yoel Strick

Hader is home to the Druze community, a minority religious sect found in Syria, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and Lebanon.

In an unusual statement earlier Friday, the IDF said that it "was prepared to assist residents of Khader to prevent occupation" by the rebel groups, "as part of our commitment to the Druze population".

The assault began when a suicide vehicle bomb attacked the outskirts of the village, Syrian state media said.

After Friday's vehicle bomb there, Syrian state television broadcast footage it said was of residents of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights attempting to cross the border to assist people in Hader.

An Israeli Druze lawmaker in Israel's parliament, Akram Hasson, said four of his relatives died in the attack Friday by the Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly Nusra Front), an al-Qaida-linked group fighting in Syria's civil war.

At least six people were killed and 21 others wounded on Friday when a suicide bombing hit the southern countryside of Quneitra, state news agency SANA reported.

The Quneitra area of Syria, where Hader village is located, is particularly sensitive to Israel because it is adjacent to the Golan Heights area that it captured from Syria in 1967.

The agency said the toll was expected to rise because a number of those wounded in the bombing were in serious condition and the ongoing assault on the town made it hard to remove the injured to safety.

Hundreds of Druze from the Golan in Israel protested the violence in Khadr; a few dozen attempted to cross the border illegally to reach the village. They are full citizens of Israel and generally serve in the army.

The Israeli army sealed off the area to prevent anyone crossing. In a statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that "we are constantly watching our borders, both north and south, in order to ensure security".

But the IDF statement reflected how the Druze are valued inside Israel as brethren by many Jews because thousands of them enlist in the IDF with the blessing of their communal leaders. "And we also seek to protect our Druze brothers".

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.