The Other al-Baghdadi — and the Christians Fighting for Freedom in Syria

by ANDREW DORAN October 10, 2017 4:00 AM

syriacThey are a moderating force in the region, like the Jews before them and the secular Muslims who fear they might be next. Raqqa, Syria — The soldiers of the Syriac Military Council sit on a rug in an abandoned home in the urban wreckage of the caliphate’s capital, perhaps 200 yards from ISIS, drinking tea and chain-smoking. The predominantly Christian unit is a small but symbolically important part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have encircled ISIS and are slowly closing in.

The Syriac officers point out that those who’ve joined their ranks — including Muslims, both Arabs and Kurds, foreigners, and other Christians — are a symbol of the Syria for which they are fighting: a federated Syria, an alternative to Baathism and Islamism. “For the first time in our history, we are fighting for each other,” says one Syriac commander. A few moments later, a Muslim soldier in the Syriac unit enters the room, unfurls a prayer rug, kneels toward Mecca in the south, and prays. He then rises and sits beside the interpreter, and a lengthy debate about the interpreter’s unruly hair ensues. Their tension-relieving banter doesn’t even pause for the small-arms fire and artillery outside; they take no notice.

The Syriac officer points to the interpreter, Ibrahim, as another example of their diversity. Ibrahim, like the late caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is originally from Iraq. Ibrahim is a convert to Christianity, but he was born into one of the last Jewish families of Baghdad — a community that numbered well over 100,000 in 1948. His ancestors arrived in Mesopotamia 26 centuries ago, when thousands of Jerusalem’s citizens were taken into captivity in Babylon, modern-day Iraq. The Psalms recall the heartbreak of that exile: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL REVIEW 

 

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Rebuilding Aleppo means rebuilding links between Christians and Muslims

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The Archbishop of Armenians in Syria’s second-largest city concluded a week-long European tour with a visit to Paris on Wednesday, in which he argued that moving on from a fierce conflict meant fostering ties between communities and faiths.

Monsignor Chahane Sarkissian witnessed first-hand the Battle of Aleppo from its beginning in July 2012 to the intense fighting under siege of Syrian and Russian forces that led to its end on 22 December 2016.

Only about a third of the 45,000 Armenian Christians lived in the city before the conflict began remain today, and Sarkissian described how those who stayed are rebuilding their lives and encouraging others to return.

“We are trying our best to open the schools and then the small and medium businesses to give the Armenian community the possibility to continue there, instead of leaving as refugees to other places, including other parts of the world,” he said.

“We are the people of this country, not just as Christian communities at an ecumenical level, but also with the Muslims. The majority of the population of Syria is Muslim, but we live with them, and we hope to continue our life inside the city and the country.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM RFI

‘They aren’t real Muslims’: Radical mercenaries kidnap, kill both Syria Christians and Muslims

muslims-christians-syria-violence.siChristians of the East view the war in Syria neither as civil nor as sectarian, Orthodox Bishop Elias Kfoury told RT. He also spoke of those who unleashed a conflict in Syrian society which hadn’t seen any religious hostilities in the past.

Metropolitan Elias Kfoury of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Southern Lebanon and Western Beqaa spoke with RT’s observer Nadezhda Kevorkova in the biblical city of Sidon, located on the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon, in a church constructed in the building where the final meeting of the Apostles Peter and Paul took place in 58AD.

The Metropolitan’s residence is located in the very heart of the old city. It’s not easy to find, however any passing Muslim would show you the way to Metropolitan Elias’s place. Some of his parishes are located in the area populated by Shiites and controlled by Hezbollah. Others are on the territory of Sunni homes and Palestinian refugee camps. Presently the largest Syrian refugee camp is also located there. The cave where Mary was waiting for Jesus, and the cave where the evangelical wedding in Cana took place are a part of his eparchy. For 22 years some of his congregation lived under Israeli occupation. Twice, in 2000 and in 2006, their churches were bombed and destroyed by Israelis. During open hostilities campaigns anyone could find a shelter in Orthodox churches in spite of their religion, whether they were Sunni, Shiites, Druse or Catholics. So the Metropolitan has quite a profound understanding of the current situation that has been developing in Syria and is about to overtake Lebanon. He’s been walking this ground and talking to these people for a long time.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RT.COM