Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/14/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Syrian Army holds the town now, most inhabitants have fled.

A Christian town where residents still peak Aramaic, the native language of Jesus Christ, remains an active example of the struggle Christians face as forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad clash with Islamist rebel fighters linked to al Qaeda.

Built against the side of a mountain, Maaloula is an ancient Christian enclave where the inhabitants still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ.

Built against the side of a mountain, Maaloula is an ancient Christian enclave where the inhabitants still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/14/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Maaoula, Syria, civil war, al Nursa, al Qaeda, terrorists, rebels, Christians


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Catholic Online is being informed that as of Friday, the village of Maaloula remains in the hands of the Syrian Army, but that rebel fighters, linked to the al-Nursa Front, continue to cling tenaciously to positions on the edges of the village.

Maaloula is a Christian enclave just 34 miles north of Damascus. It has been a Christian town for two millennia and is one of the first centers of Christendom. Residents there still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ. The town has enjoyed a long peace with Christians and Muslims living in harmony.

As a result of its significance and long history, it has become the home of many shrines including churches, caves, and other sites regarded as holy to both Christians and Muslims.

Following the outbreak of civil war, Christians struggled to remain neutral. Sensitive to their precarious plight as both the Assad regime and al Qaeda-linked fighters in the rebel army became increasingly ruthless, the Free Syrian Army pledged to keep fighting away from the ancient community. That pledge has been broken by the fighters from the al-Nursa Front, which is a major rebel contingent of al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.

The jihadist attack began last week with a suicide bombing followed by a full-scale rebel assault. Most residents fled or joined a hastily-formed pro-government militia. The Syrian Army then counterattacked, aiding the Christian militia fighting to defend their homes and churches from the jihadists.

Locals accused the jihadists of desecrating Christian churches and shrines, but other sources confirm that statues and Church buildings remain intact. It is likely that all involved in the conflict understand the political significance of the community. It is thought that al-Nursa is respecting, to a degree, Christian shrines because of the PR value of doing so.

On Tuesday, the Free Syrian Army said it would retreat from the town of Maaloula on the condition that the Syrian Army did not move to occupy it. However, the Syrian Army does now occupy the majority of the town and the rebels are now fighting to retake it.

While the high command of the Free Syrian Army is a political entity, and has sympathy for the Christian inhabitants, the jihadists do not likely have much intention of sparing the Christians over the long-term. Already they have been implicated in the destruction of other Christian churches, shrines, and the kidnapping and martyrdom of several clerics.

In other communities, jihadist rebels have reportedly forced Christians to convert to Islam or face extermination.

According to local sources, most of the town's 3,300 or so inhabitants have fled and very few still reside in their homes.

It is likely that if the rebels win, the al-Nursa brigade will enforce their own brand of evangelism on the populace as soon as world attention is diverted elsewhere. If not the al-Nursa fighters, then other Sunni jihadists will probably replace them and do what they have already done elsewhere.

The conflict in Syria isn't just about the people versus their government. It is about evil clashing with evil and good being caught in between. Meanwhile, the entire world stands paralyzed, unwilling to do anything substantial to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

There are hopes that the current effort to avert American military intervention will also promote a cease-fire and talks between the two sides. However, it should be recognized that the jihadist fighters, the same ones who threaten on the outskirts of Maaloula, have no interest in peace. Their goal is to spread their own brand of Islam by all means necessary.

Until the world recognizes that both secular dictatorships and militant, religious terror organizations are threats of equal value that should be addressed with great vehemence, the crisis in Syria will deepen, mush to the detriment of Christians and other innocents who inhabit the troubled regions of the world.

Click here to learn about our 'Saint Michael the Archangel' conference this Nov 1-3!

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Middle East

Muslim migrants arrested for throwing Christians off vessel, victims feared dead Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fifteen Muslim migrants from Sicily were arrested after being accused of throwing 12 Christians overboard as they cross from Libya to Italy last Wednesday. According to the Palermo police, they detained the suspected perpetrators, while the victims are feared to be ... continue reading


Israeli Prime Minister warns of second Holocaust in memorial speech Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During his speech at a Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem for a commemorative event, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Israel's current state with the operations of Washington to that of the time of Hitler. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


Israeli Jews remember Holocaust in remarkable way on 70th anniversary of Nazi death camp liberation (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People all across Israel came to a complete standstill for two-minutes to mark the Holocaust memorial day. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As sirens wailed across the country, the silence was echoing. Playgrounds, road traffic and beaches all came to a complete ... continue reading


Dead Sea dying as the River Jordan dries up Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Dead Sea, the famed Biblical body of water tread by prophets and kings, is increasingly endangered by enormous sinkholes. Coupled with the fact that the River Jordan is evaporation the Dead Sea could be literally - dying. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Muslim woman fights against odds to reform Muslim women's marginalization Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an attempt to clear misunderstanding after being branded as an ally of "Islamophobic speakers," Asra Normani was allowed to give a speech at the Duke University in North Carolina this Tuesday. The former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal said that her ... continue reading


'Mom! Dad! Jihadi John is going to slaughter me!' cartoon Obama cries before being beheaded in video Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a sick, crudely produced cartoon, U.S. President Barack Obama is shown being beheaded by masked figure identified as the infamous Islamist State executioner "Jihadi John." Obama is seen crying for his life before being beheaded by the cartoon figure. LOS ... continue reading


13-year-old Syrian girl gunned down by ISIS snipers while trying to flee terrorized refugee camp Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A teenage girl was shot and killed by the ISIS snipers last week, April 7. Identified as Zeynab Daghastani, the 13-year-old refugee tried to escape the Yarmouk Camp in Damascus, which was held by the militants, to go to the ISIS-free nearby neighborhood, Yalda, ... continue reading


Nine-year-old girl impregnated after Islamic State gang rape Watch

Image of Around 40,000 people had been kidnapped at gunpoint when Islamic State fighters attacked Yazidi villages last summer. Hundreds have returned, either by fleeing or being set free by ISIS.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In one of its countless crimes against humanity, a nine-year-old Yazidi girl is pregnant, after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of Islamic State militants in northern Iraq. The girl, released after nearly a year as a prisoner kept as a "sex slaves." LOS ... continue reading


ISIS executes ten doctors for refusing treatment to wounded members Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

ISIS has brutally executed ten doctors for refusing to treat the wounded militants of the organization. Al-Sumaria satellite television network reported that the doctors were shot in the head due to the refusal, saying that they do not support the activities of the ... continue reading


Increasing number of Jerusalem tourists report mental illness causing them to believe they are characters from the Bible Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Characterized by believing they are Biblical characters in the city of Jerusalem, thousands of pilgrims are said to be suffering from a mental condition and the number of inflicted is increasing. The so-called Jerusalem syndrome was first identified by psychologists in ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 6:1-7
1 About this time, when the number of disciples was ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
4 The word of Yahweh is straightforward, all he does ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
16 That evening the disciples went down to the shore ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 18th, 2015 Image

St. Apollonius the Apologist
April 18: Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter