Just in case someone was wondering if the rebels in the Syrian civil war were any different than the dictator controlling that Middle Eastern nation, rebels issued a warning to Christians living in Maaloula: “Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded.”
Well, now we know.
This declaration by rebel forces, controlled by al Qaeda, followed the storming of a Christian center where they offered those in the town the choice. A resident of Maaloula said the rebels shouted “Allahu Akhbar” as they moved into the village. The rebels assaulted Christian churches and known Christians.
One report stated: “They shot and killed people,” he said. “I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village. Where is President Obama to see what has befallen us?” Another witness stated, “I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, ‘Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded.’”
The village of Maaloula is just 25 miles from Damascus. It has sites within the village that are dedicated as United Nations world heritage sites. (Residents of Maaloula still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.)
Factions, including al Qaeda, have faced off against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, it has been unclear who or what organization is behind the uprising that has nearly destroyed that ancient nation’s capital. Until now.
The rebels who took Maaloula are associated with the al Nusra Front, an al Qaeda-associated Muslim group. (Villagers reported hearing foreign dialects being uttered by the intruders, including Chechen, Moroccan, Libyan and Tunisian.) Somehow that does not sound like Syrian freedom fighters trying to shed the shackles of an oppressive government, but rather, radical al Qaeda groups from all over the Muslim world.
Perhaps we need to sort out the facts before unleashing the might of the United States on an independent nation. Retracting statements about Assad’s corrupt government is one thing, but missiles and bombs cannot be retracted once they have obliterated their targets.