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3-ARCHBISHOP-ALNEMEH

Horror of Christian massacre in Syria

Horrific details are emerging of what has been described as the largest massacre of Christians in the Syrian civil war.

A total of 45 Christians were killed and 1500 families were held hostage in the west-central Syrian town of Sadad, which was stormed by Islamist rebels on October 21 before being captured by government forces a week later.

Among those killed in the attack were two teenage boys, their mother and three of their grandparents, who were thrown down a well.

Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh (above) said that ‘what happened in Sadad, is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two-and-a-half years.’

“Forty-five civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves,” the archbishop said.

He added that churches have been damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture, while schools, government and municipal buildings have been destroyed.

Reports from Sadad, a largely Syrian Orthodox town, have been sent by church leaders to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and describe how vulnerable people unable to escape—including the elderly, disabled, women and children—were subjected to torture, such as strangulation.

Church sources say 30 bodies were found in two separate mass graves.

In an interview with ACN, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III of Damascus described the atrocities in Sadad as ‘bestial.’

Highlighting the murder of the family thrown down the well, Patriarch Gregorios said: “How can somebody do such inhumane and bestial things to an elderly couple and their family?

“I do not understand why the world does not raise its voice against such acts of brutality.”

The atrocities took place during a week-long occupation of Sadad by the Al-Nusra Front and Daash, rebel forces who, according to church leaders, held 1500 families as ‘human shields’ in a bid to stop Government troops retaking the village.

Reiterating his call for an end to the transfer of arms to Syria, especially extremist rebel groups, Patriarch Gregorios said that already the atrocity had instigated another wave of emigration of Christians from Syria.

He said that, until now, the faithful had seen Sadad as a safe haven, compared to the likes of Homs where Christian communities had come under attack.

Last month Patriarch Gregorios visited the UK as the guest of Aid to the Church in Need, calling for peace in Syria and action for persecuted Christians in meetings with government ministers, parliamentarians, the media, Church leaders and Christian communities in London and Glasgow.

The Syrian conflict began in early 2011 as an uprising against the country’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad. So far, it has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced many more.

 

—For more information and to help support ACN visit http://www.acnuk.org

 

 

 

 

 

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