Syria Army Makes Major Advance in Christian Town

Syria Army Makes Major Advance in Christian Town

Syria army makes ‘major advance’ in Christian town

Via AFP -Syrian government troops on Wednesday beat back Islamist rebels and advanced into Maalula, a historic Christian town near Damascus, state news agency SANA reported.

“Units from our heroic army have made major advances, chasing down terrorists from Al-Nusra Front in the town of Maalula,” said an official cited by SANA.

The army “has made it across the town’s main square and has reached the Mar Takla convent,” said the source, adding that “dozens of terrorists have been wiped out.”

The regime has used the word “terrorist” to its opponents ever since the start of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule in March 2011.

The official also said eight rebels had been killed and 20 others wounded in fighting north of Maalula.

A security source earlier told AFP that “the army has not yet retaken Maalula” and that fighting between rebels against troops was “raging on.”

The army’s advance comes a day after rebels announced they would withdraw from Maalula, but that this was “conditional” on pro-regime forces not taking their place.

“The army and its shabiha (militias) must not enter into the town,” a spokesman for the rebels said in an online video statement.

“To ensure no blood is spilt and that the properties of the people of Maalula are kept safe, the Free Syrian Army announces that the town of Maalula will be kept out of the struggle between the FSA and the regime army,” he said.

On Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and residents said rebel forces, including jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda, had overrun Maalula.

A nun from Mar Takla convent in Maalula told AFP by telephone that “there were fierce battles (on Tuesday) but the town was not shelled. We and the orphans we take care of are doing well, but we lack fuel.”
The town, home to about 5,000 people, is strategically important for rebels, trying to tighten their grip around Damascus and who already have bases circling the capital.

Civilians started fleeing the town nearly a week ago, fearing an imminent escalation.

The National Coordination Body, an opposition group tolerated by the regime, said most fled to the neighboring Sunni village of Ain al-Tine, as well as to Damascus.

The opposition National Coalition charged that regime artillery shelled Maalula after they lost control, “indifferent to the holy sites within it.”

Amateur video distributed by activists showed damage to the facade of a convent and the unidentified cameraman said the regime used “tank and rocket fire” to target it.

Picturesque Maalula, nestled under a large cliff, is considered a symbol of the ancient Christian presence in Syria.

Its people are among the few in the world who speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.


  1. Foxy Wizard says:

    It is really hard to take sides in the overall conflict, but this appears to be good news for these Christians. The bottom line seems to be this: Assad, for all his butchery, is a secular leader who allows Christians to practice their religion. The “Rebels” (read Muslim Brotherhood) will establish a non secular government like Morsi (pi$$ be upon him) tried to do in Egypt.

    So I have to say, I am on the side of the Assad regime.

    • I have to agree with your assessment, Foxy Wizard. The Christians and Jews, for that matter, do fare much worse and have a poor chance of survival with the jihadists & MB in control of areas.
      Watching just a few short videos of what is happening in Syria, the beheadings of citizens by the rebels, makes you wonder how those people could not be longing for the days of Assad being in complete control.

      • Christians are under assault. Meanwhile, in Egypt, the Coptic Pope Twadros II after all the horror his people have been through, gave a message of hope. He compared Egypt to a woman in labor, stating, “All of this will turn into happiness when a child is born and a new life begins.” It makes me feel bad for complaining about the little problems in my life when I see what so many others have to endure.

  2. Foxy Wizard says:

    Thank you for bringing that quote to my attention. The Christian faith really is about love and forgiveness. My friend Mary Thunder has spent time with the Copts in Egypt, and had a dream of bringing one of their churches, stone by stone, to the land we live on. It is a blessing when I hear Christian leaders return love and optimism when confronted with hatred. It reminds me of the incident a few years ago where the Amish children were gunned down. The Amish Elders went to the funeral to make sure the families of the killer were comforted, then they publicly forgave the killer. I hope I have that kind of love and compassion in my heart if ever confronted with that kind of loss.


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