Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt
Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt AFP file

Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has sided with the rebel Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group which Washington lists as a "terrorist organization" in the Syrian conflict.

"I support Al-Nusra Front against the Syrian regime," Jumblatt said in an interview with Al-Akhbar newspaper published on Wednesday, according to AFP.

"The Syrian people has the right to side with the devil -- except with Israel -- against the regime," said Jumblatt, a fierce foe of President Bashar al-Assad although he was once an ally of his late predecessor and father, Hafez al-Assad.

"I am acting to protect the (Syrian) Druze. The Alawites (Assad's community) will go back to their mountain, but the Druze live in a sea of Sunnis," said Jumblatt.

While most anti-Assad rebels -- like the majority of Syria's population -- are Sunni, the country's minorities have mostly stayed on the sidelines of the two-year-old conflict in Lebanon's neighbor.

Among them are Syria's Druze, many of who live in the south, next to the majority Sunni area of Hauran.

The Alawites, meanwhile, come from the mountains of northwest Syria.

Lebanon's politicians and society are deeply divided over the war in Syria, with the Sunni-led opposition backing the revolt and Shiite movement Hizbullah along with its government allies supporting Assad's regime.