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    » 09/09/2013, 00.00

    SYRIA

    Maaloula: rebels break into the village homes, kill three young Christians



    AsiaNews sources report anti-Christian violence and persecution in the village where people still speak Aramaic. Islamist insurgents have broken into homes and seized at least six young Greek-Catholics. Dead bodies are lying in the streets as a warning to the inhabitants. In Damascus, the local Church tries to help the refugees, but "many families have been stranded in their homes. Nothing is known about them."

    Maaloula (AsiaNews) - The bodies of Christians killed lie abandoned by the side of roads; houses and churches have been destroyed and plundered," this is Maaloula today, a village about 60 kilometres north of Damascus that was recently invaded by Islamist insurgents.

    The town, the cradle of the Syrian Christian tradition and a unique place in the world where Aramaic is still spoken, is now a ghost town.

    Sources, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews that "the Islamist insurgents are breaking into village homes. Yesterday they killed three people and took six young Greek-Catholics Christians prisoners. Bodies have been left in the streets as a warning to the population. Many families are locked in their homes and cannot even escape. Nobody knows their conditions."

    The situation is critical for those who were able to leave the village. "Several hundred people," sources said, "managed to save themselves, but had to leave all their belongings. A new ordeal is starting for them."

    In the capital, parishes gave hospitality to fleeing families, but the food will not last for long.

    "These people are traumatised," sources told AsiaNews. "Entire families have left their entire lives in Maaloula. They do not need only material goods such as food, water, a bed to rest but also spiritual support, especially the elderly, women and children. "

    The rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) invaded the village last Thursday, defeating government forces with the support of al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Brigades.

    After taking control of the city, Islamists begun to desecrate Christian buildings, destroying the crosses on the dome of the Greek-Catholic monastery of Saints Sergius and Bacchus.

    A villager told AsiaNews that the leader of the local Muslim community condemned the attack saying it was against Islam.

    "Violence cannot be carried out either in the name of Allah or Muhammad," the sheikh said, to no avail. (S.C.)

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    See also

    27/09/2013 SYRIA
    Maaloula Christians say town Muslims took part in attack
    "Christians and Muslims had always lived in an atmosphere of mutual trust; the attack on Maaloula has created a lot of distress." Islamists have invaded homes and continue to threaten the village, site of ongoing clashes between rebels and the army. The families who fled to Damascus and Beirut tell their story. The goal is to drive out Christians in order to eliminate Christianity.

    10/02/2014 SYRIA
    New video of abducted Ma'aloula nuns, calling for the release of "all detainees" in Syria
    The video was broadcast by Al Jazeera. This time the sisters do not speak and there is only a voiceover. The sisters are a bargaining chip: the rebels want the release of all detainees in Syria.

    11/12/2013 SYRIA
    Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate: " No news of the 13 Ma'aloula nuns, we do not trust the video"
    According to video released by Al-Jazeera the women religious held in Yabrud were to be released on December 9. The Greek -Orthodox Patriarchate "concerned" about their condition. Ongoing intense fighting in the area between the army and Islamist insurgents. Two Spanish journalists in Syria to a report on the anti- Assad revolution held captive by Islamic extremists.

    04/12/2013 SYRIA
    Maaloula sisters in Yabrud, Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate reports
    The nuns are said to be in good condition. At present, it remains unclear why Islamist insurgents took them or when they will be released. In the now deserted town, Islamists have started torching all Christian-owned homes.

    11/09/2013 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.



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