- (Photo: Reuters/Zain Karam)
Islamist militias have invaded a Christian village by the Orontes River in Idlib, Syria, terrorizing the locals and threatening a massacre, according to Monsignor Giuseppe Nazzaro, the Apostolic Nuncio in Aleppo.
"These incidents are part of a plan that is being carried out which has targeted several Christian villages in the last few weeks. Armed militias have stormed these villages and terrorized, kidnapped and murdered their locals," said Monsignor Nazzaro. He said Salafi extremists and Islamic Front jihadis prevented the village priest from ringing the church bells and forced Christian women to wear a veil covering their hair.
"We are dealing with what extremists have forced a nearby village for over a year now, where they threatened to murder all its locals, prompting them to flee the village and give way to Islamists to cease all their properties," said Nazzaro. "As for the village by the Orontes River, they haven't forced their population to leave, but have imposed Islamic law on them."
"I believe this is the first step, and maybe later they could force them all to convert to Islam," he concluded.
The invasion comes after Muslim militants stormed the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Takla in Syria on Dec. 2, after they seized the historical Christian town of Maaloula. The militants forcibly took away 12 nuns who are still missing.
Syrian Christians have been subjected to continuing attacks and their churches and monasteries have witnessed acts of violence since the start of demonstrations against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.