Jihadists force Syria Christian to ‘convert at gunpoint’Agence France-Presse . Damascus
Jihadists who overran Syria’s ancient Christian town of Maalula last week forced at least one person to convert to Islam at gunpoint and executed another one, residents said Tuesday.
‘They arrived in our town at dawn on Wednesday and shouted ‘We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders,’ an Islamist term for Christians, said a still frightened woman who identified herself as Marie.
She spoke to AFP in Damascus, where she was attending the burial with hundreds of others of three Christians from Maalula killed in last week’s fighting, the long line of mourners led by a brass band playing dirges.
‘Maalula is the wound of Christ,’ mourners chanted as they marched through the narrow streets of the capital’s ancient Christian quarter, their voices nearly drowned out by the rattle of automatic gunfire in honour of the dead.
There was an irony in that, as the assault on Maalula came only a couple of weeks before a major feast, the Exaltation of the Cross.
Maalula, around 55 kilometres from Damascus, is one of the most renowned Christians towns in Syria, and many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
Home to around 5,000 people it is strategically important for rebels, who are trying to tighten their grip around the capital and already have bases south and west of Damascus.
Maalula could also be used as a launching point for attacks on the highway between the capital and Homs, a key regime supply route.
Clashes first erupted on Wednesday, when Al-Nusra Front fighters and other Islamists attacked an army checkpoint at one entrance to the town.
comments powered by Disqus
Jihadists who overran Syria’s ancient Christian town of Maalula last week forced at least one person to convert to Islam at gunpoint and executed another one, residents said Tuesday. ‘They arrived in our town at dawn on Wednesday and shouted ‘We are from... Full story
Less than two weeks before German elections, the chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives maintained a strong poll lead on Wednesday despite an increase for the opposition Social Democrats. Merkel also boasted a 26-point edge in her personal approval rating over her Social Democratic... Full story
The US intelligence officials declassified documents on Tuesday revealing the National Security Agency violated privacy rules for three years when it sifted phone records of Americans with no suspected links to terrorists. Full story
The families of the victims of the worst terror attack on the United States in history gathered Wednesday to mark their 12th anniversary. The September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington killed almost 3,000 people, led to a long war in Afghanistan and created an... Full story
A wide-ranging probe into woolly mammoths has added to evidence that the towering tusker was wiped out by climate change, scientists said on Wednesday. British and Swedish researchers sequenced DNA from 88 samples of mammoth bone... Full story
Toxic liquor has killed at least 12 people in central Pakistan, police and health officials said on Wednesday. The deaths occurred near the farming town of Rahim Yar Khan, where the men were drinking locally made liquor at a party. Full story
The police and the coastguard in Japan carried out large-scale searches Wednesday for the bodies of more than 2,500 people still missing two-and-a-half years since the quake-tsunami and nuclear disaster it spawned. Full story
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will offer to supply Iran S-300 air defence missile systems as well as build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, the Kommersant business daily reported on Wednesday. Full story
Prosecutors sought the death sentence on Wednesday for four men convicted over the ‘diabolical’ gang rape and murder of a student on a New Delhi bus as the judge set sentencing for later this week. Full story
A car bomb exploded on Wednesday outside a building that once housed the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi in what an official said was a warning that diplomats are not safe. The blast seriously damaged the foreign ministry building... Full story
Adolf Hitler will lose his honorary citizen’s title in Goslar, Germany, the latest town to distance itself from the former Nazi leader, officials said on Wednesday. The northern town’s council adopted a motion on Tuesday to drop Hitler as an honorary citizen, town... Full story
About a thousand people staged a street protest in the Philippines on Wednesday in the second internet-fuelled demonstration in three weeks against alleged large-scale corruption by members of parliament. Full story
A deputy speaker of Britain’s parliament has been charged with several counts of sexual assault as well as rape, authorities said on Tuesday. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said enough evidence had been gathered to prosecute Nigel Evans, a member... Full story
Thousands of residents fled as fighting between Philippine troops and Muslim rebels intensified on Wednesday on the third day of a deadly siege in a key southern city. At least 13,000 people crammed into Zamboanga city sports stadium seeking... Full story
A Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts touched down to Earth early on Wednesday morning after undocking from the International Space Station following 166 days in space. American Chris Cassidy and Russians Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander... Full story