Wednesday November 26, 2014
Outgoing artillery shook St Elias church as the priest reached the end of the Lord's Prayer.
The small congregation kept their eyes on the pulpit, kneeling when required and trying to ignore the regular thuds that rattled the stained glass windows above them.
Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, the hard to reach Syrian agricultural town of Izraa has stood the comings and goings of many empires over the centuries.
But as the country's civil war creeps closer, it is threatening to force the town's Christians into permanent exile: never to return, they fear.
"I have been coming to this church since I was born," said Afaf Azam, 52. "But now the situation is very bad. Everyone is afraid. Jihadists control villages around us."