After the first joint terrorist raid in early September by the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) and al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) on the ancient Syrian town of Maaloula, known for its special Christian heritage with Aramaic still being spoken by its residents today, and that ended up with the Syrian Army expelling the terrorists from the town, a repeated scenario has taken place over the last couple of days. However, this time, as much as 12 nuns and several orphans were reportedly kidnapped by the terrorists from the Mar Takla (St. Thecla) monastery and taken to Yabroud. Jabhat al-Nusra has been reported by local sources to have burnt homes and churches in Maaloula, a town that presents no strategic significance to its occupiers. This type of attack on a serene minority (Christian in this case) village by the extremist militants only showcases the real intent behind their attacks.
Sources: Asianews.it, al-Manar TV
Islamist Rebels Abduct 12 Nuns from Syrian Town
Islamist fighters who captured a Christian village north of Damascus have moved 12 nuns to a nearby town in what may have been a kidnapping, the Vatican’s ambassador to Syria said on Tuesday.
The militants took the ancient quarter of Maaloula on Monday after heavy fighting with government forces. Syrian state media said they were holding the nuns captive in the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Thecla.
Ambassador Mario Zenari told AFP that 12 Syrian and Lebanese Orthodox nuns had been abducted by rebels. All communications with the town have been cut since Monday, an AFP correspondent in Damascus said.
But pro-rebel sources cited by Reuters said the nuns were safe and that the real threat to them came from what they described as random Syrian army bombardment of Maaloula.
Zenari said that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate had told him armed men had entered the monastery on Monday afternoon and believed that they had taken the nuns from Maaloula to Yabroud, about 20 kilometers (13 miles) to the north.
“They forced the sisters to evacuate and to follow them towards Yabroud. At this moment we cannot say if this is a kidnapping or an evacuation,” he told Reuters by telephone from Damascus.
A military source told Syrian daily Al-Watan that government reinforcements were headed to Maaloula.
The fighting, which pits al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front fighters and other rebels against government forces, is part of a wider struggle for control of the Damascus-Homs highway in central Syria.
An official at the Greek Patriarchate confirmed that he believed the nuns were taken to Yabroud, but gave no details.
Syrian state television said Christians had held a service in Damascus on Monday to protest against the capture of the nuns and the kidnapping of two bishops near Aleppo in April.
The village was the scene of heavy fighting in September, when it changed hands four times in a series of attacks and counter-assaults by rebels and government forces.
Zenari said the nuns were among the last residents left in Maaloula after most fled south for relative safety in Damascus.
Terrorists Break Into St. Thecla Convent in Maaloula, hold Mother Superior and Nuns Hostage
Damascus Countryside, (SANA) – Local sources in the town of Maaloula in Damascus Countryside said that terrorists broke into St. Thecla Convent and held Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf and a number of nuns hostage.
The sources told SANA that the terrorists also committed acts of vandalism in the town’s neighborhoods and around the convent, attacking locals and targeting them with sniper fire.
Head of the Higher Committee for Relief, Social Affairs Minister Kinda al-Shammat, voiced concern over this incident, holding the terrorist groups and the countries that fund and arm them responsible for the lives of the Mother Superior and the nuns they are holding hostage.
Al-Shammat called on the international community and organizations to pressure the countries supporting terrorists to release the hostages along with all abductees held by terrorists in Syria.