Monday, December 2, 2013

Pray for the Nuns and People of Maaloula!

 Update here.

For coverage of the first time the rebels took control of Maloula, see here.

From AsiaNews, citing Radio Vatican, here:

Maaloula: Islamist rebels abduct 12 nuns from the St Thecla Orthodox monastery

Damascus (AsiaNews) - Islamist rebels have kidnapped a group of nuns from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Thecla (Mar Taqla) in Maaloula (north of Damascus). Mgr Mario Zenari, the Vatican nuncio in Damascus, confirmed the information after speaking with the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate. Through the Vatican diplomat, the latter "calls on all Catholics to pray for the women religious."

"Armed men burst in the monastery of St Thecla in Maaloula this afternoon. From there, they forcibly took 12 women religious," Mgr Zenari said, citing a statement from Patriarchate. The group of Islamist rebels has apparently taken them to Yabrud, some 80 km north of the capital. Neither the nuncio nor the church Greek Orthodox Church know reason behind the kidnapping.

Islamist Rebels from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had invaded the small town on 5 September after driving out regime troops with the support of al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Brigades. After taking control of the city, they went on a rampage against Christian buildings, killing three young Catholic men.
More than 3,000 people, the town's entire Christian population, fled their homes seeking refuge in Bab Touma, the Christian quarter of Damascus. Some found shelter with relatives in Lebanon or in local Greek-Catholic convents.

Only Muslims were left in town, plus 40 nuns at the St Thecla Monastery who stayed to help care for dozens of orphaned children.

As of yesterday, Maaloula became again the scene of heavy fighting between the army and Syrian rebels, including many members of the extremist Jabat-al-Nusra militia.

Clashes are concentrated mostly in the upper, oldest part of the town, where the St Thecla Greek-Orthodox and the Sts Sergius and Bacchus Greek-Catholic monasteries are located.

From there, the rebels have launched repeated attacks against army positions in the lower part of town.
Fighting is intensifying, sources told AsiaNews. "The army is trying to regain control over the villages north of Damascus. For this purpose, it has launched a major offensive against the rebels, who are trying to hold government forces back through a scorched earth policy in the areas under their control."

From an-Nahar, here
Communication with the Nuns of Maaloula Cut Off... What Is Their Fate?

After rebel forces made up of Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamic brigades gained near-total control over the Syrian city of Maaloula, communication has been completely cut off with the nuns of the Monastery of Saint Thekla. Up to the present moment, the fate of the six nuns left in the city is unknown following the withdrawal to the outskirts of the city of the Syrian Army and some of the men belonging to the Popular Committees, who had remained in the city until Sunday.

The spokesman for the Syrian Revolution General Committee, Amer al-Qalamouni said to an-Nahar that, "The Free Army has taken almost complete control over the city of Maaloula, however there is not sufficient communication with the revolutionaries there for us to give certain information about the fate of the nuns in the Monastery of Saint Thekla. However, I will confirm that the revolutionaries have no intention of attacking any religious symbol, as was clear the first time they took control of Maaloula." He added, "We are awaiting the re-establishment of communications with the revolutionaries in the city in order to know the nuns' fate."

The Rami Abd al-Rahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights did not dispel any of the ambiguity surrounding the nuns' fate. He said to an-Nahar, "There is no certain information about the fate of the nuns, however it is confirmed that Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic battalions have taken near total control over Maaloula and that the Monastery of Saint Thekla is under opposition control." He explained that, "The nuns have not been taken hostage by the revolutionaries but I am unable to confirm that they are alive and present in the city. We are awaiting new information on the situation in the city."

An eyewitness who left Maaloula said to an-Nahar that "Elements of the opposition started attacking Maaloula Saturday night by rolling large truck tires filled with explosives down the hill from the Hotel Safir toward the Old City of Maaloula. This caused serious damage to homes and to the monasteries and forced the Army to withdraw to outside the city. This also led to the withdrawal of some of the men who were still in the city, so no one was left but the nuns." The witness added, "Opposition fighters went up on roofs to shell the Syria Army, but the latter did not return fire out of fear of destroying the monasteries and bearing responsibility for that."

From the Syrian state news agency SANA, here:

Terrorists break into St. Thecla Convent in Maaloula, hold Mother Superior and nuns hostage

Damascus Countryside, (SANA) – Local sources in the town of Maaloula in Damascus Countryside said that terrorists broke into St. Thecla Convent and held Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf and a number of nuns hostage.

The sources told SANA that the terrorists also committed acts of vandalism in the town's neighborhoods and around the convent, attacking locals and targeting them with sniper fire.

Head of the Higher Committee for Relief, Social Affairs Minister Kinda al-Shammat, voiced concern over this incident, holding the terrorist groups and the countries that fund and arm them responsible for the lives of the Mother Superior and the nuns they are holding hostage.

Al-Shammat called on the international community and organizations to pressure the countries supporting terrorists to release the hostages along with all abductees held by terrorists in Syria.

H. Sabbagh


John (Ad Orientem) said...

Lord have mercy!

Anonymous said...

I think it's time for Russia to intercede on behalf of us Orthodox Christians and take out al-nurse and the rebels who are trying to destroy Syria.

Anonymous said...

In the end the Lord Almighty is in charge and everyone will get their dues. God, please help all to know and worship you. You came into the world because You love us and want us to be your children. Help all to know you and to bow down to you.
May this world have peace and harmony.