Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/14/2013 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A greater number of Christian soldiers are joining with Assad as Islamist rebels threaten Christian communities.

Syrian Christians are starting to align with the regime of Bashar al Assad as extremist rebels form an increasing number of the anti-regime fighters. Worried about their churches and homes, Christians are organizing into volunteer units and fighting alongside the regular Syrian army. There is a sense of stalemate and a need for negotiation to end the conflict.

A church tower riddled with bullet holes. Christians are finding it harder to remain neutral as jihadists close in.

A church tower riddled with bullet holes. Christians are finding it harder to remain neutral as jihadists close in.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/14/2013 (10 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Syria, Christians, soldiers, al qaeda, jihadists, Islam, Assad


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - France 24 carried the story late last week of "John" a Christian fighting in Assad's forces. John was interviewed by the agency who wanted to know why Christians, originally neutral in the conflict, have started to gravitate towards the Assad regime.

Christians are a major minority in Syria making about 5 percent of the population. A few have sided with the rebels, however the majority have tried to remain neutral, worried that an unfavorable outcome could bring post-war repercussions.

While Christians may not be major supporters of the Assad regime, they distrust the jihadists whose publicly stated goal is to turn Syria into an Islamic state with conversion to Islam made compulsory.

To accomplish their mission, jihadist fighters have targeted clergy, ransacked churches and shrines, and killed some Christians in their efforts to terrorize Christian enclaves into submission. The Free Syrian Army, that arm of the rebels recognized by the United States and its allies does not endorse the tactics of the jihadists, and has on some occasions actually clashed with them. However, the Syrian uprising is hugely dependent on the influx of al Qaeda-linked fighters and cannot continue without them.

The jihadists have been largely successful in hijacking the rebellion.

This leaves Christians with a shrinking choice, which is to reluctantly join regime forces in an effort to defend their communities against the jihadist threat.

John told France 24, "I tried to encourage the men from my village and nearby villages to join up as well. But they weren't very receptive, as they didn't feel concerned by what was going on. All the while, an increasingly large number of Lebanese and Palestinian Jihadists were crossing the border to come support the rebels. From week to week, the number of kidnappings and attacks against civilians was increasing rapidly. All the inhabitants of the region, whether Christian or Muslim, could clearly see that criminals were taking advantage of the reigning chaos to loot and kidnap innocent people. This ended up pushing many of our young men to join the ranks of the National Defense Committees."

John added that many prominent local religious leaders were "reticent" to support the Christian reinforcement of Assad's army, but they all recognize the threat posed by the al Qaeda linked fighters.

There is a growing sense that the conflict cannot be resolved by fighting so the incentive to negotiate is strong. However, al Qaeda-backed fighters have little desire to negotiate and they often undermine ceasefires. The rebel forces are receiving arms and supplies, especially the jihadists with their own, independent supply networks.

With no end to the conflict in sight, more Christians are taking Assad's side in an effort to stem the slowly rising tide of jihadists arrayed against them.

A birth foretold: click here to learn more!

---


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


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Middle East

Fleeing imminent death, three million Syrians now registered in other countries. That's half the population of Syria. Watch

Image of A bride crossing the Israel-Syria border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"The Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them," Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement. As of this ... continue reading


Video shows rows of bodies as 250 Syrian soldiers DEATH MARCHED, forced to chant praises to their executioners before being killed (Warning: PHOTOS)

Image of Forced to chant praised to their executioners, jubilant ISIS terrorists killed approximately 250 Syrian prisoners.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has committed another atrocity, this time murdering as many as 250 Syrian soldiers following a half-naked death-march across the desert sand to their place of execution. The entire way, as a video reveals, the men were compelled to chant and sing ... continue reading


Yazidi women held prisoners by IS sold as sex slaves, jihadist brides Watch

Image of Women held captive by ISIS have their newborn babies taken from them -- to never be seen again.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In just the latest devaluation of humanity in the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria, hundreds of Yazidi women being held prisoner by Islamic State fighters to be sold off as sex slaves or wives. They are selling these women for as little as $25. They are repeatedly ... continue reading


Islamic State invasion 'pure and simple religious cleansing and attempted genocide' Watch

Image of Patriarch Younan says that in the Kurdistan region,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan has returned from the Kurdish region of Iraq, and what he has seen has been harrowing indeed. What he made of the handiwork of Islamic State, he said, "is a pure and simple religious cleansing and attempted ... continue reading


Second American confirmed killed fighting for ISIS in Syria Watch

Image of Neither overtly religious nor politically vocal, Abdirahmaan Muhumed appears to have been radicalized by jihadi rap videos, romanticized notions of revolution and first-hand accounts of the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A father-of-nine from Minneapolis has become the second confirmed American jihadi to die fighting for ISIS in Syria. Twenty-nine-year-old Abdirahmaan Muhumed is believed to have died last week in the same battle as U.S. rapper Douglas McArthur McCain, likewise ... continue reading


Children forced by IS to watch shootings, beheadings Watch

Image of Other acts of inhumanity include amputations, the stoning to death of women by

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Children in both Iraq and Syria are being forced to watch as IS beheads or shoots its victims at close range. According to a United Nations report, corpses are then displayed on crucifixes with decapitated heads exhibited on sticks -- for days long afterwards. ... continue reading


Gaza ceasefire holds: Israeli PM Netanyahu says war in Gaza ended in 'victory' Watch

Image of At least 2,140 people, chiefly civilians, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Another 11,000 people have been injured.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Saying that the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement was "hit hard and got none of its demands," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the seven-week conflict in Gaza ended in "victory." In the meantime, Hamas has also claimed the truce ... continue reading


Would you drink this? 3,000 year old wine found in Israel Watch

Image of Radar imaging of the ancient cellar where more than 40 wine vessels were found, dating back more than 3,000 years.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new excavation of a Bronze Age palace in Israel has revealed a massive wine cellar filled with a collection of over 40 large vessels that each contain a differently flavored wine including mint, honey and juniper, researchers say. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Islamic State threatens to execute U.S. woman if ransom demands not met Watch

Image of In addition to the ransom money, Islamic State is also demanding the release of MIT-trained neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in 2010 of trying to kill two U.S. officials.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State is threatening to execute a 26-year-old American woman if it does not receive $6.6 million in ransom. Remaining unidentified, at the request of her family, the woman was reportedly doing humanitarian relief work in Syria when she went missing ... continue reading


Casualty of War: Iraq's rich, culturally diverse society destroyed by IS Watch

Image of Yazidis who were assisted by the YPG are now shifting their allegiance to the group. Since coming off the mountain, hundreds of Yazidi have received training at YPG military training camps; some have already returned to Mount Sinjar to fight as new recruits for the YPG.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State forces have advanced further into Syria and overtaken cities in northern Iraq. Those who don't submit to their militant cause are tortured, imprisoned or killed. The border between northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria has effectively ... 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, First Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
97 How I love your Law! I ponder it all day ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2014 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... 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