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Massacre of Christian village in Syria; almost 40 people killed

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Syria

A Christian village in Syria was savagely attacked and almost 40 of its residents, including women and children, killed by opposition fighters, as UN investigators warned of increasing radicalisation among the rebels.

UN: "Very complicated distinction between the bad and the good rebels"
UN: “Very complicated distinction between the bad and the good rebels”
CC BY 2.0 / Freedom House

The village of Dweir on the outskirts of Homs, near the border with Lebanon, was invaded on 27 May.

One of our Syrian partners told us that two of his relatives in Dweir were severely tortured by the rebels, who broke some of their bones and started to burn their bodies before shooting them in the head.   

The villagers who managed to escape the onslaught fled to Raman district, where Barnabas Aid is providing them with aid.

Following the massacre, the Syrian army entered the village and heavy clashes with the rebel fighters ensued.

The following day, independent United Nations investigators warned that the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad is becoming increasingly radicalised and that the civil war is producing ever worse atrocities.

Paulo Pinheiro, who leads a team of 24 experts that have been documenting crimes committed during the conflict, said:

It was said the rebels were angels, but there is only a minority of fighters with a democratic history who believe in the Syrian mosaic and want a state for all. The majority of rebels are very far from having democratic thoughts and have other aspirations.

Barnabas Aid has been warning for some time about the Islamist agenda of an increasingly dominant section of the opposition.

In April, the Iraqi wing of al-Qaeda confirmed that it has links with the al-Nusra Front, which has become a leading rebel band, while al-Nusra’s leader pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda frontman Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Despite these alarming developments, Western powers have been increasing their support for the opposition. They have been providing non-lethal aid for some time, but are now moving towards supplying arms to the rebels.

Britain and France pushed the EU to lift its arms embargo with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague insisting that there would be “safeguards” to ensure that weapons “would only be supplied to the Syrian National Coalition for the protection of civilians”.

Last month, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a measure that, if backed by the House, would lead to the arming of the Syrian opposition with heavy weapons.

Senator John McCain has been one of the leading voices calling for the US to arm the rebels. He said on Friday (31 May), following a visit to the war-ravaged country, that he was "confident that they could get the weapons into the right hands”.

While not commenting on the position of Western governments, Mr Pinherio of the UN suggested that the matter was not so straightforward:

There is a very complicated distinction between the bad and the good rebels.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Heavenly Father, we pray to You for our Christian brothers and sisters in north-eastern Nigeria, who are so vulnerable in the face of attacks by Boko Haram militants. We remember especially those who used to live in Madagali, in Adamawa state, until their town was seized by Boko Haram two months ago. We think of those who were betrayed into the hands of Boko Haram by their neighbours pointing out Christian homes or places where Christians had hidden. We bring before You those who saw their menfolk beheaded, and women forcibly converted to Islam. We cry out to You to intervene and bring an end to the murderous attacks by Boko Haram. We pray for all the thousands of Nigerian Christians who have suffered in similar attacks that they will not lose hope or faith in You, but will know Your peace which passes understanding. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 11 hours ago

    • Pray for a pastor in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania whose home was attacked on 17 May; two of his children were injured. When he went to report the incident to the police, he was falsely accused of raping a young woman who had left Islam to follow Christ. The pastor had taken her into his home, along with four other converts, after she was thrown out by her family; it was they who made the accusation against him. He has faced much opposition because of his fruitful outreach to Muslims, and several failed attempts have been made to frame him with false accusations. Pray that the sovereign Lord will help him and that he will not be disgraced (Isaiah 50:7-9). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Oct 2014 00:00

    • A church on Mafia Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, was attacked on 9 May by around 80 young Muslim men armed with arrows and knives. The church members, who are mainly converts from Islam, had gathered for their weekly overnight prayer session when the attackers appeared, shouting “death to ritad’i” (those who leave Islam). They set fi re to the church, leaving the interior in ruins, and then went in search of the pastor, but he was not at home. The incident followed a bomb blast at another church in Mwanza in mainland Tanzania on 5 May, in which a worker at the church rest house was critically injured. Pray that the authorities will effectively address the increasing incidence of attacks against churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Cry out to the Lord for the many Christian victims of kidnapping by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Remember especially the more than two hundred teenage girls who were taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, on the night of 14 April. A video released in May showed eight of the girls speaking about their ordeal; they plead for their release, and one says, “I never expected to suffer like this in my life.” It is believed that they have been divided into at least four groups and that most of them are being held in camps outside Nigeria. They are hungry, while some are unwell and need medical attention. Pray for their safe release and for that of other kidnapped Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Deadly attacks by Boko Haram continue relentlessly in Northern Nigeria. On 15 June, gunmen descended on the remote Christian village of Daku in Borno state; they killed 15 people, chasing and shooting those trying to escape, and torched a church, several homes and a market. Two weeks later, scores of people were killed in attacks on four villages near the mainly Christian town of Chibok; in Kwada the assailants burst into four churches and opened fire on worshippers before setting the buildings on fire. Pray that our distressed and persecuted brothers and sisters may find strength in the Lord their God (1 Samuel 30:6) as they pass through this bitter ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Oct 2014 00:00

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