9 Sep 2013

Al-CIA-da: Islamists seize control of historic Christian town of Maaloula - Plight of Syrian Christians gets worse

By Madison Ruppert: After extended fighting between Islamist Syrian rebels and Syrian government forces, rebels captured the historic Christian town of Maaloula, just an hour’s drive outside of the Syrian capital of Damascus.
The Christian population in Syria continues to suffer greatly, with many historic locations like Maaloula either overrun or destroyed by al-CIA-da-linked groups.
Maaloula has been the site of especially vicious activity, with the Associated Press reporting that residents said that militants were attacking Christian homes and burned at least one church.
“One resident said gunmen had tried to convert villagers to Islam on threat of death,” the BBC reports.
Rebels from the openly al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front overran the town Saturday night, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“We cleansed Maaloula from all the Assad dogs and all his thugs,” a rebel commander shouted in a video posted online over the weekend, according to CNN.
While CNN says it remains to be seen how the capture will impact the Christian residents of Maaloula, one can predict the outcome will not be positive.
Indeed, Christian bishops have been kidnapped along with a well known priest and many other Christians around the country.

“The mosques announced they wanted to round up all the Christian men. The families became scared,” Maryam, a Christian woman who fled Syria, told GlobalPost in July.
Al Hadath, an Arabic news agency, reportedly said that in attacking Maaloula, the rebels “terrorized the Christians, threatening to be avenged on them [sic] after the triumph of the revolution.”
Maaloula was kept relatively safe until recently.
Last year, Antoinette Nassrallah, a Christian café owner in Maaloula, told CNN that she heard of violence aimed at Christians in Aleppo.
“For now in our area here it’s fine,” Nassrallah said at the time. “But what I heard, in Aleppo, they are killing, destroying many of churches — very, very old churches.”
Some fear that Maaloula might become a safe haven for rebels since the village is on a UNESCO list of tentative heritage sites and both the US and the Syrian government will not bomb it. It is home to Mar Sarkis and Mar Talka, two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria.
Despite the actions of rebels and the struggle to show a direct link between the use of chemical weapons and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the US government continues to attempt to build international support for a strike on Syria.
There were also reports Sunday indicating that the Pentagon is aiming for a more extensive attack on Syria that originally planned.

Edited by WD

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