Lurch Obama’s Secretary of State has moved the mobile “red line” from Syria to Ukraine, news coverage from the Middle East has been pretty scarce. It’s difficult to determine whether the civil war is winding down or not, but after the tragic murder of Father Van der Lugt earlier this month, I was glad to see this happier story: Assad pays Easter visit to recaptured Christian town.
Maaloula, a town of 5,000, is just north of Damascus and the only place where – until last year – the Western Aramaic language (the language of Jesus) was still spoken. It’s been occupied by Christians since there have been Christians.
Twice attacked by rebels last year, most of the inhabitants have fled to the capitol.
In December, Syrian rebels kidnapped at least 12 Nuns from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Thecla ~
Syrian rebels have reportedly re-entered the historic Christian town of Maaloula, north of the country’s capital of Damascus, this week while battling forces loyal to the country’s President Bashar al-Assad. The rebel forces have been occupying the small, predominately Christian town intermittently for the past several months as they battle in the surrounding Qalamoun region. Recent reports from witnesses in Maaloula indicate that the Islamic rebels have reportedly kidnapped a group of nuns from a local monastery in the city. […]
Rebel fighters, who are attempting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and his government, previously entered the Christian city in late September. Although the majority of rebel fighters simply want a new government to be installed in the country, some Islamic factions, including the Al-Nusra Front, are associated with hardline Islamic groups like al-Qaeda and seek to have a completely Islamic state installed in the country following the possible overthrow of al-Assad. Horror stories from Maaloula indicate some of the rebel fighters have treated the city’s Christian inhabitants violently, forcing them to convert to Islam or die.
On March 9th, after three months in captivity, the nuns were released, reportedly as some sort of “prisoner” exchange ~
Thirteen Lebanese and Syrian nuns who were kidnapped by rebels from the historic Christian town of Maaloula in December have been released and are now returning back to Syria after traveling through Lebanon […]
… the Syrian Observatory for human Rights, a monitoring group that largely sides with the opposition, identified the rebels who took the nuns as militants from the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda and one of the radical groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces […]
The Observatory, as well as a rebel source, said that the release of the nuns had been agreed as part of a prisoner swap with scores of women held in President Bashar al-Assad’s jails.
Then last week, the town of Maaloula was recaptured by the Syrian Army – with the help of Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters (Good grief! Are they the new “moderates?”) ~
President al-Assad announced over the weekend that he believes the recent victories on behalf of the government’s army mark a “turning point” in the three-year conflict between his regime and rebel forces.
“This is a turning point in the crisis, both militarily in terms of the army’s achievements in the war against terror, and socially in terms of national reconciliation processes and growing awareness of the truth behind the [attacks] targeting the country,” the state-run news agency Sana reported the president as saying.
President Bashar al-Assad loosely falls into the same category as the now-deceased Libyan dicatator Muammar Gaddafi – a thug, but a predictable thug – as opposed to the crazy Islamic extremist thugs. The lesser of two evils.
Gaddafi and Assad, as well as Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak, were relatively protective of Christians living in their respective countries.
~ Six years ago – happier times in Maaloula ~
The three-year-old conflict, which started as a peaceful protest movement against four decades of Assad family rule, has killed over 150,000 people and forced millions from their homes.
The town of Maaloula was heavily damaged ~
“The display of hatred was clear – the houses are totally destroyed, the whole village was destroyed. I can’t describe the amount of damage to the village,” said Lorain, a Maaloula resident in her 20s who was returning on Sunday after fleeing the fighting several months ago.
But maybe now that the O’Ministration isn’t encouraging the jihadis in that corner of the world, the Assad government seems to be gaining the upper hand, and some sort of stability may be restored in Syria.
Syria in Biblical Prophecy
Syria crisis: In sacred Maaloula, where they speak the language of Christ, war leads neighbours into betrayal ~ So sad. After so much destruction it’s difficult to believe that this ancient town will ever recover.