‘Biggest massacre’ of Christians in Syria reported as population continues to be targeted by rebels
By End the LieTwo new mass graves containing over 30 bodies in the Christian city of Sadad were recently discovered, evidence of what one archbishop called “the most serious and biggest massacre” of Christians in Syria.
The situation for Christians in Syria has been horrific and it seems to be only getting worse as time passes. Indeed, for many Christians around the world, their faith puts them in the line of fire.
A report published by Fides on Thursday stated that some 45 Christian civilians, including women and children, were killed by Islamist rebels in Sadad, halfway between Homs and Damascus.
The report, which cited the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus, stated that the Christian settlement was invaded and occupied by Islamist militias on Oct. 21, though it was recently recaptured by the Syrian army.
“45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves,” said Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama. “Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing.”
Much of the city, which had a population of 15,000, was destroyed and looted, eyewitnesses said, according to the Christian Post.
Sadad reportedly has roots dating back to 2,000 B.C. and boasts many churches, temples, historic landmarks and archaeological sites, the Christian Post reported.
“For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields,” Alnemeh said of the siege of Sadad to Fides. “Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women. Some of them fled on foot travelling 8 km from Sadad to Al-Hafer to find refuge.”
The church official said that some 2,500 families fled the city with only their clothes. Refugees remain scattered between Damascus, Homs, Fayrouza, Zaydal, Maskane and Al-Fhayle, according to Alnemeh.
Alnemeh maintains that it is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East after the 2010 attack on a church in Iraq that left at least 58 dead.
In September, at least 78 were killed and over 120 wounded in a suicide bombing targeting a church in Pakistan.
In October, it was reported that gunmen fired upon a Christian wedding in a suburb of Cairo, Egypt.
On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that rebel shelling has “increasingly hit several majority-Christian districts” in Damascus along with other predominantly Christian towns in Syria.
The increasingly frequent rebel attacks on areas heavily populated by Christians have “fueled fears among Syria’s religious minorities about the growing role of Islamic extremists and foreign fighters among the rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad’s rule,” according to the Post.
Gregorios III Laham, the Melkite Greek Catholic patriarch of Antioch and all the East, estimated that over 450,000 of the 1.75-2 million Christians in Syria have fled their homes since 2011, according to the Christian Post.
Both Laham and Alnemeh have called for help.
“As Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, fell under the weight of the Holy Cross, Simon of Cyrene was fetched to help. We too need a Simon to help bear our cross,” Laham said.
Up until two years ago, Laham said that his country was “a beacon of hope for Christians in the Middle East.” He said it acted as a sanctuary for Christians fleeing persecution in neighboring Iraq. But now both the Iraqis and native Syrians are facing massive persecution.
“We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us,” Alnemeh said.
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