02/12/2013, 00.00
SYRIA
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After Muslim rebels seize two priests in Aleppo, there are fears for their life

An Armenian Catholic priest, Fr Michael, and an Orthodox clergyman were abducted last Sunday in Aleppo's Christian neighbourhood. Sources speak to AsiaNews about barbarous murders carried out my Islamic extremists. A car bomb explodes at the Turkish-Syrian border crossing of Cilvegozu.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) - A group of rebels close to Muslim extremists on Sunday abducted an Armenian Catholic priest, Fr Michael, as well as a yet unknown Orthodox clergyman. Both were working in Aleppo. Sources, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews that the city's Christian community is very concerned about the attack. "Extremist violence is getting worse day by day. Muslim militias are killing anyone suspected of ties with the regime, including women and children. People in the neighbourhoods are comparing these days to the Ottoman conquest five centuries ago."

For several weeks, residents had complained about the presence of al-Nusra Front forces, Islamic extremists who want to turn Syria into an Islamic state, feared even by the rebel Free Syrian Army.

On 6 February, Front troops stormed the Christian neighbourhood of Jdeideh where extremists had already destroyed the city's main Evangelical church in November.

Al-Nusra forces include many foreigners, including Muslims from Indonesia and the Philippines, as evinced by a statement posted online by the leader of Abu Sayyaf, an extremist Muslim group with ties to al-Qaeda operating in the Philippines. In it, Muslims are urged to go to Syria and sacrifice their lives for Islam.

"These fighters live for killing and violence. They act without pity and make distinctions among people," sources said. "When they kill, they turn to God as if they were making a sacrifice."

Meanwhile, clashes between the military and rebel groups continue across Syria with more than 60,000 people killed so far.

Yesterday, a car bomb killed 13 people near the Turkish border, at a road block in Cilvegozu, a border crossing some 100 kilometres northwest of Aleppo, the main route of escape for Syrian refugees fleeing the war. It has been in rebel hands for several months. (S.C.)

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