Syria: Jihadist militants turn against non-Islamic rebels

Source: FSSPX News

On November 7, 2013, Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy of Hassaké –Nisibis told Vatican missionary news agency Fides that during the last few weeks the pressure of the rebel forces has relaxed significantly. “The Kurd militants operating in the area are working with the regular army.” In northeastern Syria, the region richest in petrol and wheat, there have been no massacres of Christians or priests in the cities of Hassaké or Qamishli, contrary to false reports spread on Arabic websites. “When the rumors about their assassination began to spread, I was sharing lunch with three priests in Qamishli,” said the Syrian Catholic Archbishop. “Jihadist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are currently massacring all the other brigades” of non-Islamic rebels, he stated. “Some ex-military groups that had sided with the rebels are now asking to rejoin the regular army. It seems as if there is a tacit truce between the regular army and the non-Islamic rebels in some areas; their common enemy has become the jihadists,” he added.

In spite of the recognition granted to it in the international community, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) along with fellow rebel group the Free Syrian Army (FSA) seems to be losing ground. The FSA has been marginalized in a numerous areas by Salafis and jihadists linked to al-Qaeda. The al-Nosra Front and al-Qaeda in Iraq have become a federation under the name of “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) and are fighting for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate where Christians would no longer have a place. The Islamic factions closest to al-Qaeda are receiving support from the Gulf nations and are responsible for a large number of terrorist attacks on populated areas under Syrian government control. Assyrian and Syrian Christian organizations such as the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) were until now only a tiny component of the SNC. The majority of Syrian Christians have refused to take part in the war that has been ravaging the country for the last two years.

With regard to the conflict, the new element in the situation, according to Chaldean bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, “is that now, we no longer know who is fighting who. The regular army, the Kurdish brigades, the Islamists, the outlaw bands, those who call themselves the Syrian Free Army, are all so many factions fighting among themselves. In the city we hear the sound of conflict and explosions but we do not know what is really going on, and this even if the population seems to believe that there has been a change on the geopolitical level and that the regular army might in the end overcome the rebel factions.” The bishop described Aleppo as a “disfigured, exhausted city. You can see it in the eyes of its citizens. For three years now everyone has lived in a state of constant harassment. There is no work. Everyone is growing poorer.”

In early November, the regular army took over vast areas from base 80, responsible for the security of Aleppo’s international airport, which had fallen into rebel hands last February. The historical centre and the most modern area of Damascus are raked with fire from the rebels’ barricades in the surrounding streets. As a priest of Damascus said on November 12, “these areas of the city are fired on blindly, just because they are under the control of the regular army, and the civilian population pays the price.”

(Sources: – Fides – DICI no. 285, 22/11/13)

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