Syria: Rebels Attack Christian Homes, Churches, Many Feared Dead, ‘Convert To Islam Or You Will Be Beheaded’
Revelation 13:15, “And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.”
Here’s an update on Friday’s report of forced conversions out of Maaloula. As of today, the Christian village has now been officially captured by Islamist rebels after government forces have been forced to retreat. Residents are reporting that Christian homes and churches have been attacked by Islamsts, now numbering as many as 1500 in the town of only 3000. Christians have been shot and killed, and others are now being threatened to either convert to Islam, or be beheaded …
Revelation 20:4b, “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
By Jamal Halaby, Associated Press – “Rebels including al-Qaida-linked fighters gained control of a Christian village northeast of the capital Damascus, Syrian activists said Sunday. Government media provided a dramatically different account of the battle suggesting regime forces were winning.
It was impossible to independently verify the reports from Maaloula, a scenic mountain community known for being one of the few places in the world where residents still speak the ancient Middle Eastern language of Aramaic. The village is on a UNESCO list of tentative world heritage sites.
The rebel advance into the area this week was spearheaded by Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, exacerbating fears among Syrians and religious minorities about the role played by Islamic extremists within the rebel ranks.
It was not immediately clear why the army couldn’t sufficiently reinforce its troops to prevent the rebel advance in the area some 45 kilometers (25 miles) from Damascus. Some activists say that Assad’s forces are stretched thin, fighting in other areas in the north and south of the country.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said Jabhat al-Nusra backed by another group, the Qalamon Liberation Front, moved into the village after heavy clashes with the army late Saturday. He said around 1,500 rebels are inside the town.
‘The army pulled back to the outskirts of the village and both (rebel groups) are in total control of Maaloula now,’ Abdul-Rahman said.
He said pro-government fighters remain inside the village, in hiding.
Initially, troops loyal to President Bashar Assad moved into Maaloula early Saturday, he said, ‘but they left when rebels started pouring into the village.’ Now, Abdul-Rahman said, the army is surrounding the village and controlling its entrances and exits.
A Maaloula resident said the rebels, many of them sporting beards and shouting [Allahu akbar], attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the village overnight.
‘They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village,’ said the resident, reached by telephone from neighboring Jordan. ‘So many people fled the village for safety.’
Now, Maaloula ‘is a ghost town. Where is President Obama to see what befallen on us?’ asked the man.
Another resident who fled the village of 3,000 inhabitants earlier in the day said in a telephone interview that Assad’s forces deployed on the outskirts of the village, while gunmen inside refused to allow anybody in.
He said the gunmen declined to allow fleeing people to take five dead bodies out of the village with them.
He said one of the churches, called Demyanos, had been torched and that gunmen stormed into two other churches and robbed them.
Most of the gunmen are foreigners, he said, adding that he heard different dialects, mainly of Tunisians, Libyans, Moroccans and Chechens.
Another resident, a Christian man, said he saw militants forcing some Christian residents to convert to Islam. ‘I saw the militants grabbing five villagers Wednesday and threatening them (saying): `Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded,” he said.” Read more.