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.)