Friday December 13, 2013
After suffering one military defeat after another, the Syrian radical opposition, backed by the support of the West and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, are increasingly retaliating cruelly against the civilian population. The jihadists seize towns and cultural and religious sites which up to that point had remained outside the combat zone, loudly proclaiming their victories.
For example, in response to the advance of the government army into the Qalamoun mountains between Damascus and Homs, where a powerful group of rebels had gathered for a sudden advance on the capital from the north (this group grew from 5,000 men a year ago to 20,000 in November of this year), the jihadists once again rushed into the nearby Christian town of Maaloula.
After vandalizing and desecrating the ancient churches, on December 2 they took 12 nuns from the Orthodox convent of St. Thecla hostage, hiding them in the city of Yabrud, which is held by the rebels. The rebels stated that they would burn the convent and kill the hostages, including the abbess, Mother Pelagia Sayyaf, after which the army retreated.