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» 09/11/2013
SYRIA
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 of people.

The attack by Islamic extremists in Maaloula began on 5 September, and has become a symbol of the suffering of Christians in Syria.

It also confirms the close cooperation between the FSA, which claims to be secular, and Islamic terrorists from the al-Nusra Front.

The Syrian 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.

"At 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.)


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See also
07/26/2013 SYRIA
As UN reports more than 100,000 dead in Syria's civil war, opposition remains divided between Islamists and secularist
04/07/2015 SYRIA
UN calls for humanitarian access to the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp
by Paul Dakiki
01/04/2012 SYRIA
Syrian crisis: Armed opposition threatens civil war
07/20/2012 SYRIA
The battle for Damascus continues as rebels take over border posts
03/22/2012 SYRIA
Lebanese border village shelled as UN calls for a stop to the violence

Editor's choices
LEBANON
Muslims defend Christians’ freedom in Beirut DeclarationFreedom of religion, education and opinion are defended by quoting the Qur’ān, which is the basis for the rule of law, not a religious state. Lebanese Sunnis slam violence committed in the name of God. The full declaration is reprinted here.
LEBANON
Islamic Makassed launch doctrinal battle against Muslim extremism
by Fady NounOfficial reference point for Lebanon’s Sunnis approves a document entitled "Beirut Declaration on Religious Freedom". Speculation over whether Dar el-Fatwa will succeed in gradually regaining control of Islamic religious teaching in the nation’s mosques.
HONG KONG – CHINA
For Card Zen, removing crosses in Zhejiang is an insult to the faith of CatholicsHong Kong’s bishop emeritus has come to the conclusion that the campaign to dismantle crosses and religious buildings is part of a broader, nation-wide strategy, and constitutes regression in terms of the mainland's religious policy. Catholics and Protestants in Hong Kong now fear that it might happen to them. In Zhejiang, another 15 religious buildings are slated for destruction by 1 September.

Dossier

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