Last update: September 2020
*Minor updates added: February 2023
[Main COI reference: Targeting 2020, 10.5, pp. 81-82]
According to various sources, 3-4 % of Syrians are Druze. The Druze reside mainly in the Sweida governorate. They are described as an ethnicity that exists both as a tribe and a religious sect. The majority of the Druze remained neutral in the Syrian conflict although a source noted that there were groups of Druze who either supported the GoS or the opposition. [Targeting 2020, 10.5, p. 81]
The Druze population in Sweida has been treated with ‘caution’ by the GoS as a ‘politically sensitive minority’, and large-scale mass arrests and bombings have largely been avoided in Sweida. The neutrality of the Druze during the conflict contributed to the cessation of compulsory and reserve recruitment by the government forces. However, 50 000 individuals were reportedly wanted for the military service and a large number of them joined local militias instead. Since mid-2018, the GoS and its allies were increasingly pressuring Sweida to resolve the issue of the Druze youths absconding from their military service. Following the July 2018 ISIL attacks in Sweida, the GoS temporarily stopped putting pressure on Sweida concerning this matter. [Security 2020, 2.14.2. p. 230]
The Druze were targeted by the ISIL with an attack that resulted in the death of 300 people and the kidnapping of 20 women and 16 children, who were released later following negotiations, ransom and exchange of prisoners, while two died in captivity and 1 person was executed [Security 2020, 2.14.2, pp. 231-232, Targeting 2020, 10.5, p. 81; Actors, 6.4, p. 62]. The Druze were also persecuted by Jabhat al-Nusrah, forcing large groups of Druze to flee from Jabal Al-Summaq in the Idlib governorate. Another source reported that the Druze of Qalb Lawza in Idlib were forced to convert to Islam by HTS [Targeting 2020, 10.5, p. 82].
According to other sources, religious minorities such as Druze are treated fairly well by both the authorities and the opposition groups and were not subjected to any interrogation or checks at the checkpoints in Damascus. [Targeting 2020, 10.5, p. 82]
Acts reported to be committed against individuals under this profile are of such severe nature that they amount to persecution (e.g. killing, kidnapping).
The individual assessment of whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances such as: regional specifics (presence of extremist groups), perceived support for anti-government armed groups, etc.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Where well-founded fear of persecution could be substantiated, available information indicates that it may be for reasons of race and/or religion and in some cases of (imputed) political opinion.
See other topics concerning ethno-religious groups: