» 09/11/2013, 00.00
Maaloula: Christians say announcement of withdrawal by Islamic rebels is false
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army claim its forces evacuated the town in order to avoid bloodshed. Sources tell AsiaNews deny the report, saying terrorists are still entrenched in the town. With many residents are still holed up in their homes, Islamists are not letting anyone escape. In Damascus, hundreds of people attend the funerals of three young Catholics from Maaloula killed by Islamists.
Maaloula (AsiaNews) - The Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced that it withdrew
its fighters from Maaloula in order to avoid bloodshed among civilians. Christian
residents have denied the claim, saying that "Islamists have not left the
city. The statement is false and only serve to turn away media attention."
Sources told AsiaNews that the
city is now almost deserted (pictured),
but "with several families still trapped in their homes due to the crossfire
between rebels and the regular army."
"People that fled to Damascus," they added, "are working with the
local church to bring aid or have at least news about relatives and friends in
Maaloula. So far, after long negotiations with the leaders of the Islamic
militias, Christians have recovered the bodies of three
young Catholics killed by extremists on 7 September." Their
funeral was held yesterday in the Greek-Catholic cathedral in Damascus in the
presence of hundreds
The attack by
Islamic extremists in Maaloula began on 5 September, and has become a symbol of
the suffering of Christians in Syria.
confirms the close cooperation between the FSA, which claims to be secular, and
Islamic terrorists from the al-Nusra Front.
Observatory for Human Rights, which is linked to the rebel cause, confirmed the
presence of al-Qaeda fighters among the forces that invaded the town and desecrated
the monasteries of Saint Tecla and Saint Sergius, destroying ancient fixtures
and the crosses on their domes.
A few days
after the beginning of the devastation, which the FSA has denied, Maaloula Christians
wrote a letter to the US Congress, denouncing the horrors committed by Islamist
insurgents against the civilian population.
04.00 in the morning hour 05/09/3 Damascus, armed gangs of so-called Free
Syrian Army, terrorists Jabhat al-Nosra, and criminals of the Islamic Caliphate
of Iraq and M. East attacked our city," the letter said. They looted our "monasteries
and churches, removing sacred images as they went on, ordering residents to
abandon their religion to convert to Islam to save their life." (S.C.)
As UN reports more than 100,000 dead in Syria's civil war, opposition remains divided between Islamists and secularist
Nearly two-thirds of the dead are civilians. Since the beginning of Ramadan, the month of peace, more than 2,000 people have been killed. The Free Syrian Army, which wants a secular and democratic future for Syria, is fighting with Islamist insurgents, who want a future dominated by Sharia. Prospects for a peace conference remain dim.
UN calls for humanitarian access to the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp
The situation for the camp’s 18,000 refugees has been described as "beyond inhumane". Once opposed to Assad, the camp has seen groups realign with al-Nusra side with the Islamic State group, and Palestinians and the Free Syrian Army work with the Syrian army.
Syrian crisis: Armed opposition threatens civil war
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Lebanese border village shelled as UN calls for a stop to the violence
The village of al-Qaa is hit, wounding one person. The UN Security Council adopts a statement with Russia and China voting in favour.
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Pastor of Amadiya: Mosul’s Christian refugees, torn between emergency aid and the longing to return home
P. Samir Youssef
In a letter Fr. Samir Youssef describes the situation of refugees, exiled from their home for more than two years. They are closely following the offensive to retake Mosul, although their homes and churches "are for the most part" burned or destroyed. With the arrival of winter there is a serve lack of heating oil, clothes, food and money to pay for their children’s school bus. An appeal to continue to support the AsiaNews campaign.
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