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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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  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 2 hours ago

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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