BREAKING NEWS: Syria Christians In Firing Line; Hundreds Killed

 

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

Christians in Syria are in the crossfire, according to rights activists and aid groups. Via Barnabas Fund


DAMASCUS/VIENNA (BosNewsLife)-- Hundreds of Syrian Christians have been killed and several Christians kidnapped as fighting rages between government forces and rebels, an aid group working in the region told BosNewsLife Thursday, February 16.

"The key battleground of Homs is encircled by fighters from both sides, leaving the Christians there and in the surrounding villages – approximately 100,000 – in the firing line, many of them trapped in the city," said Barnabas Fund, which supports local believers there.

The Britain-based group said at least over 200 Syrian Christians died in recent clashes and added that the community "has been beset by a series" of kidnappings blamed mainly on rebels calling themselves the Free Syrian Army.

"The rebels make high ransom demands for the return of the captives, but in two known cases the victims’ bodies were found after the money had been paid," Barnabas Fund claimed, without providing more details.

"Some families are now becoming so desperate that they tell the kidnappers to kill their loved one immediately rather than subjecting them to torture."

FREE SYRIAN ARMY

There was no known response to the allegations of the Free Syrian Army, which military experts claim still lacks a clear command structure and suffers under little, or no, training and poor equipment.

However the reported incidents came after church leaders said they fear "a mass genocide of Christians" if Islamists takeover in Syria, where Sunnis Muslims make up 74 percent of the country's 22 million population.

Analysts say thousands of Christians, perhaps in many cases reluctantly, are tied up in the regime's security apparatus and are employed in high-ranking government and military positions.

Aware that masses might rise up against the regime, Syria's previous president, Hafez al-Assad, sought to consolidate power among the minorities, including Christians.

And, under the secular regime of current President Bashar al-Assad, "Christians had relative freedom to worship" although "Christian meetings were monitored by the secret police and evangelism was discouraged," said Open Doors, a group supporting "persecuted" Christians.

There are two million Christians in Syria, around ten per cent of the population, according to several estimates,  Among them are thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees who have been forced from their homeland by anti-Christian violence and persecution, and are already in desperate need, Barnabas Fund said.

CHRISTIANS FEAR FUTURE 

While Christians have expressed concerns over reported brutality under the the current president, they are even more worried about their future, according to Christian rights activists.

"Our brothers and sisters in Syria are in a desperate state, facing the daily struggle of trying to get enough food to feed their families while war rages all around them," stressed Barnabas Fund's International Director Patrick Sookhdeo in remarks to BosNewsLife.

"They are also understandably anxious about how this conflict is going to end and what that will mean for their future in the country."

Rights groups say more than 6,000 people have been killed since regime forces began cracking down on democracy protests launched on March 15 last year, including at least 24 people across the country Thursday, February 16. Among those killed were reportedly four people in clashes in the the city of Daraa where the uprising began and 14 others who died in a government assault on a defected area near Hama.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told reporters in Vienna Thursday, February 16, that he is demanding that President Bashar al-Assad's government immediately stop the “shelling and use of force against civilians.”

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

“We see almost certain crimes against humanity. The lack of agreement in the Security Council does not give the government license to continue this assault on its own people. The longer we debate, the more people will die," he said. He did not address reports of wrongdoing against Christians by the Free Syrian Army.

Christian aid workers said orphans and whole families are being evacuated, and are in desperate need of food and basics. "Christians in Syria are hungry and helpless amid the brutal fighting between government troops and rebels," Barnabas Fund claimed.

Prices have sky rocketed, supplies are running low, and it is often too dangerous to go out in search of food, according to Barnabas Fund and Open Doors investigators. Even in some parts of the country not directly affected by violence, there is inflation of up to 50 percent, while in Homs itself some prices have reportedly tripled, Christians added.

Barnabas Fund said it has launched a fund to support local Christians and urged Christians to pray "for peace and stability to be restored in Syria" and "For all those who have lost loved ones in the violence, that they will be comforted in their grief."

Aid workers said that for Syria's Christian community prayers have been urged "that the Lord will be their rock, fortress and deliverer" and that "He will meet all their needs", a reference to Bible verse Psalm 18:2.

4 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS: Syria Christians In Firing Line; Hundreds Killed

  1. Why do we continue to back the wrong people? It happened in Egypt, in Libya, Tunisia, and now Syria. Leaders in all of those countries were keeping the Islamic extremists at bay until Obama gave his official “approval” to overthrow the governments and the U.S. gave military assistance and financial aid to opposition forces. Now the Islamists are in power. Christians who can’t flee their countries are VERY fearful for their lives and are already experiencing terrible acts of persecution, even murder.

    PS: Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating with the Afghani Taliban, who have set up an office in Qatar (known for its terrorist camps)? As part of the talks, Obama is actually considering releasing 5 Taliban terrorists from Quantanamo Bay. So what will be the fate of our dear Afghani brothers and sisters now?

  2. Spongebob,
    You’re right, it is indeed the Sunnis killing the Christians. The fall of Assad will be the worst thing for the Christian community in Syria. Sure it’s a step away from tyranny, but a step towards hardcore islamization and extremism taking over a historically secular government, sure both pretty bad scenarios, but as a westerner, I’ll pick the former evil over the latter anyday……

  3. Dear Spongebob,

    The latest is that the Assembly has adopted a resolution urging Assad to step down. As far as we known they did not address rebels alleged involvement in killing Christians. The article did not suggest that the Sunni Muslims attack Christians, though there may well be Sunnis Muslims among the fighters. Indeed, in a wider context, there is concern the conflict will turn into an all-out religious war that may well include ‘revenge’ attacks against minorities such as Christians.

    Best regards,

    Stefan J. Bos

  4. Correct me if my interpretation of this article is wrong, but this article seems to suggest that it is the Sunni muslims (i.e. peaceful protestors, Syrian Free Army, and of course good ol Al-Quaida) that is killing, or will be seeking revenge later, of these Christians.

    Did the UN General Assembly consider this today, during their vote to hold Assad and the Shiite regime responsible for all that is bad in Syria?

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