Syrian Rebels with Al-Qaeda Ties Besiege Villagers that Speak Ancient Language of Christ

Syrian Rebels with Al-Qaeda Ties Besiege Villagers that Speak Ancient Language of Christ

On Wednesday, Syrian rebels reportedly linked to al-Qaeda attacked Christians in a village that is one of three in the world where residents still speak the dialect of the language that Jesus Christ spoke. 

The United States would be empowering–and possibly arming–these rebels if it engages in military action against the Syrian regime.

In the mountain village of Maaloula, which is near Damascus, Syria and has about 2,000 residents, rebel forces reportedly linked to al-Qaeda shelled Christians from the mountains, “smashed a statute of the Virgin Mary,” and tried to convert residents to Islam. 

According to a Telegraph report, Maaloula “is associated with the earliest days of Christianity” and is “one of only three places in the world where Western Aramaic, a dialect of the language spoken by Christ, is still used.”

The villagers “are mostly Melkite Greek Catholic and Orthodox Christians, but have historically lived peacefully alongside a Sunni Muslim minority.”

Though the town had not been impacted by the Syrian civil war for the most part, rebel groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army that some lawmakers want to arm and train, reportedly attacked the town with “full force.”

“First they took a brick factory owned by a Christian guy, who is now missing,” a villager told the Telegraph, before adding that “a car bomb detonated at the checkpoint at the entrance to the village.”

As reports have indicated, “Christians, who make up approximately 10 per cent of Syria’s population, have increasingly become targets in the conflict” and “almost a third of the Syriac Christian population has fled the rebel-held northern town of Hassakeh after Christians became targets for kidnappings and assassinations.”

A villager said a Christian farmer cannot even be on his land now “unless he is accompanied by a Muslim resident of the village.”

According to the New York Daily News, ultimately “more than 80 frightened villagers took shelter in a convent that’s already home to 13 nuns and 27 orphans” to escape the rebel forces.