This will be a good starting point for folks trying to understand the complexity that is Syria which has 10 to 20% Christians (Maronite Catholics, Assyrian Christians, Melkites, Orthodox, Latin Catholics), has Moslems (Sunni, 12-ever Shiites, 7-ever Shiites), has Moslem-like (Druze, Alawi, Ismaili, Ahmadiyya), even some Jews (I think some are left, not sure) and then the stranger religions like Mandaens, Yezidis etc.
I post this as too many seem to have the wrong idea of Syria as a monolithic Islamic state and worse -- don't realise that if Assad goes, his opposition are anti-Christian too and worse than he is
There are variations in all of these different groups that draw on Islamic tradition ~ particularly the parts where they get to kill each other.
I think there are something like 57 different major brands in Islam ~ and that's whether or not you count the Alawi as Moslem.
You get to know more about the religion as a member in steps as you pass through rituals and levels. At every level you are judged whether you are fit to progress to the next level. This sounds Masonic but these people take this very seriously. If you divulge anything about the secret parts of the religion you will be killed, and killed slowly and painfully.
Much of what we know about this religion came from one guy who was then killed by being slow roasted over charcoal, and that was in the 20th century.