While the civil war in Syria is between Bashar al-Assad’s Alwaite regime and the overwhelmingly Sunni rebels, the neutral Christian and Druze minorities in Damascus are paying a high price. Regime forces are using Christians and Druze neighborhoods as a base to launch their attacks against rebel-controlled areas, and in return, the rebels are retaliating by launching mortars against neighborhoods packed with civilian residents.
More than 140,000 Syrians have been killed in the three-year civil war and one million refugees have fled to Lebanon alone.
The regime uses ground and aerial bombing to target the rebel areas, while the rebels use premature mortar guns that are fired indiscriminately and target civilians in the first place.
Wednesday, a Christian primary school in the city of Damascus called Al Manar was shelled by mortars. A nine-year-old pupil named Senar was killed, and more than 90 others were injured. Photos of the children’s blood on school grounds have been published on the social media in Arabic.
The neighborhoods being targeted by rebel forces are Babtouma, which is known as the Christian quarter in old Damascus; Dwellaa, a Christian area near to old Damascus; and Jaramana, a Druze and Christian inhabited suburb of Damascus.
The mortar campaign has been active since a month. A group called Faylak Al Ruhman has claimed responsibility for the shelling. It claims to be targeting Assad forces and the Shia Iraqi militia that is allied with Assad, both of which are using the Christian and Druze neighborhood as a base. The Youtube channel of Faylak Al Rahman has posted a video showing rebels while firing the mortars against the city of Jaramana.
It is difficult to believe that these mortars are being fired at military targets. They are not guided missiles, but very crude rockets. Christians and Druze in Syria are not only blaming the rebels, but the regime, too, for putting them on the front line of its battle against the rebel forces.