DUBAI : Saudi Arabia's grand mufti has urged young Saudis to refrain from fighting in Syria.

The kingdom has backed the rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad, publicly calling on the world powers to "enable" Syrians to protect themselves, but is wary that fighters could return home ready to wage war on their own dynastic rulers.

"This is all wrong, it's not obligatory," Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh said, in reference to Saudi men joining a civil war that is now in well into its third year, according to pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.

"These are feuding factions and one should not go there. I do not advise one to go there ... Going to a land that you do not know and without experience, you will be a burden to them, what they want from you is your prayer."

A Gulf source familiar with military movements in the region said in September 2012 thousands of Saudis had sought to head to Syria to join the uprising. It is not known how many succeeded.

"Muslim should be fearful of God and not deceive young Muslims and exploit their weakness and lack of insight and push them to an abyss," the mufti was quoted by the paper on Monday.

"I advise them (preachers) to advise (young people) as they would advise their sons."