A pair of car bombs that killed 38 people and reportedly injured 83 more in the mostly Christian and Druze town of Jaramana, Syria, has led some to allege the rebels are using the civil war to cover a more sinister campaign of slaughtering Christians.
The Christian group Open Doors USA reports the Syrian government is placing the blame for the attack on “terrorists” although residents of the Damascus suburb haven’t joined the fighting on either side.
Although the rebels have denied involvement in the attacks on Christian neighborhoods, Open Doors believes the attacks are aimed at Christians, rather than supporters of Assad’s government.
For some, however, this attack was personal.
A Syrian-American who has asked not to be named to protect relatives still living in Syria says the twin car bombings claimed the lives of family members.
“The explosions in Jaramana killed my uncle’s father in-law and another uncle’s wife’s cousin,” the Syrian-American said.
He says the intended targets of the attacks are obvious.
“Why can’t the facts be acknowledged here? Isn’t it obvious these bombing acts are disproportionately against Christians? The claims that the government does this to eradicate support for rebels, labeling them as extremists, are ludicrous,” the Syrian-American said.
He has some harsh words for U. S. foreign policy makers.
“It’s a cop out,” he said. “We simply allow the Gulf nations and Turkey to dictate our policy and altogether ignore the real elements behind this supposed uprising.
“This is the Muslim Brotherhood taking control like in Egypt, and they are certainly willing to use extremists. Their ideology isn’t all that far apart. This is the path now taken,” the Syrian-American said.
He has a grim forecast for Christians in the Middle East: “We can expect that few Christians will remain in the Holy Land in the coming years.
Open Doors USA says in a press release it has confirmed that Christians are the targets of the “ethnic cleansing” campaign.
“Before, Christians were caught up in the war in the same way as Kurds, Druze and all other ethnic groups. Also, a part of the Christian community in Syria has been actively supporting President Assad, thus being an actor in the civil war,” the Open Doors statement said. “But some Syrian Christians say a series of incidents recently points to a trend of violence against Christian civilians, including priests. Particularly worrying, they say, is the growing presence of foreign radical Islamic fighters in the country and the many Islamist brigades within the opposition Free Syrian Army.
“Yet there is fear of government forces as well,” the statement continued. “On Nov. 14, four missiles struck the Christian village of Tel Nasri in northeast Syria. St. Mary’s Church was severely damaged, as were many houses. As the Assyrian International News Agency reports, a 14-year old boy was killed, and many were wounded, apparently by Assad’s fighter planes, though that is not confirmed.”
WND reported in early November that a video report indicated Syrian rebels were actually shooting Christians, even though the rebels claimed to be executing Syrian soldiers.
A video of a Nov. 1 attack in which black-clad Syrian rebels reportedly killed 28 men has been posted on YouTube. An Agence France-Presse story on the attack identified the victims as Syrian soldiers, but Religious Freedom Coalition President William Murray said two of the victims were associated with his cooperating organization in Syria, which distributes aid.
The victims were not soldiers, he said, but civilians from the same neighborhood, “So they were all probably Christians.”
He argued that even a brief review of photos of the attack indicates the victims were civilians.
“They were not armed and never were combatants,” Murray said.
The week before, WND reported that rebels were purposefully capturing Christian neighborhoods to ensure that the neighborhoods would be shelled by artillery when the army attempted to retake them.
The Religious Freedom Coalition’s Murray said there’s a reason the Free Syrian Army chose to fight over the Christian neighborhoods.
“The Islamist rebels invaded Christian neighbors to force government troops to destroy homes there,” Murray said. “They want the government troops to shell the neighborhoods in an effort to recapture it.”
Murray said this is a familiar strategy.
“I have seen this tactic in the so-called West Bank during the Intifada,” he said. “Muslims would fire mortars from a Christian neighborhood to draw Israeli fire there. This is a win-win for the Islamist rebels supplied by Turkey. Syrian government troops can be fired on, and Christian homes get destroyed.”