Jihadists torch crosses in Syria churches

2013-09-26 23:12


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beirut - Jihadist fighters linked to al-Qaeda set fire to statues and crosses inside churches in northern Syria on Thursday and destroyed a cross on a church clock tower, a watchdog said.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters entered the Greek Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation in the northern city of Raqa and torched the religious furnishings inside, the Syria Observatory for Human Rights said.

They did the same at the Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs, and also destroyed a cross atop its clock tower, replacing it with the ISIL flag, the Observatory said.

Most of Raqa, located on the banks of the Euphrates River and capital of the province of the same name, fell to anti-regime fighters in March.

Where the ISIL dominates in the city, it imposes a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on the populace.

The London-based Observatory denounced these attacks "against the freedom of religion, which are an assault on the Syrian revolution".

Not only have there been attacks on Christian places of worship in Syria, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country wracked by more than two years of civil war, but also on Shi'ite Muslim mosques.

Additionally, Christians clerics have been kidnapped, and some brutally murdered, by jihadists.

In January, the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, said: "The destruction of religious sites is furthering sectarian fears and compounding the tragedies of the country."

"Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship."

The New York-based group said that "while some opposition leaders have pledged to protect all Syrians, in practice the opposition has failed to properly address the unjustified attacks against minority places of worship".

At the outset of the rebellion against President Bashar Assad, rebels welcomed the support of jihadist groups, largely made up of foreign fighters.

But the jihadists, where they have reached a position of dominance in specific parts of the country, are increasingly alienating the native population.

On Thursday, an ISIL commander from the United Arab Emirates was killed in fighting with Kurds in the north of Syria, the Observatory said.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  syria  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.