Photo via The Daily Star
The battle rages on to liberate the ancient Christian village of Maaloula, Syria which has been mostly cleared of the rebel infestation. As the Syrian army tries to dislodge the remaining snipers (who include Jabhat al-Nusra, the fighters allied to al-Qaeda) the Christian residents of the town who have taken refuge in Damascus are angry and bitter. One woman, attending a funeral for the Christians who had been killed in battle, lashed out at Obama, saying they blame him because he’s been arming the rebels.
“The army is continuing its mission in Maaloula. There are still some terrorist pockets in the north of the town, in the Al-Safir hotel and its surroundings, as well as in the hills surrounding the town,” the official from the security services said on condition of anonymity.
President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has consistently labelled opponents as “terrorists” since the outbreak of the revolt in March 2011 that has killed more than 110,000 people.
“The army has made some progress,” the official added, saying the battle for Maaloula has been hard because the army did not want to bomb the town.
Via the Telegraph:
The statues of the Virgin Mary and Christ were shrouded in smoke and dust, as every few minutes a tank shell crashed into the mountainside. Christ’s message of forgiveness had been forgotten here, the Bible’s teaching that the peacemakers are blessed seemed to echo from another world.
Syria’s soldiers were angry and frustrated. Many didn’t want us to show their faces or film their failure to recapture one of the jewels of Syria’s multi-faith mosaic. Others kissed crucifixes they wore and cursed the Nusra Islamists who, as more than one assured me “were helped and trained by Britain and America”.
The rebels claim they took Maaloula to punish the Christians there for supporting the Assad government, a support that is real but tepid. For most Christians in Syria the fear of what Islamists might do if they win this war outweighs any dislike they have for Assad’s system.
On Saturday, in a Damascus church heavy with gold and grief, they mourned the Christians killed in the battle. The framed photographs of the dead sat next to the holy icons of the Greek Orthodox faith, some men in the pews bandaged from injuries they’d received. “We blame Obama”, one woman in black yelled at me, “he should have the Nobel peace prize taken away from him – he is helping the rebels who killed our Christian brothers”.
The battle for Maaloula seems a long way from the diplomatic debate abroad about Syria’s chemical weapons. And so it seems across the country.
In a land weary of war, one woman personified it. Her head seemed to move heavily, her eyes slowly, as she looked up to the skies after four months in captivity. She told me she was 37 years old but she looked a decade older. She rolled up her sleeve to reveal the bruises and piercings of what she said was constant torture by her captors; rebels who accused her of being a spy.
She had been kidnapped inside a rebel held area; her religion, Alawite like Assad, raising the suspicions of Islamists and their allies who have been attacked by Assad’s army there for nearly two years. So they beat her, electrocuted her, she said, women as well as men joining in the torture, week after week.
Her lips were chapped, her teeth almost orange with neglect, her whole body seemed deformed by her ordeal. She tried to stand up but could hardly walk. It was as if she had had a stroke. She escaped her torturers only because she was swapped for the wife of a rebel leader, in a prisoner exchange.
This then, is the nitty gritty of a dirty war without any end in sight. As she spoke, the battle raged all around us; the sniper fire across a sandbagged frontline; the thud of artillery shells landing amid the densely packed buildings; the occasional shouts of “Allahu Akbar”, ‘God is great’, from across the rebel lines.
We need to stop aiding these savages.
Legislation in the U.S. House and Senate is aimed at stoppingObama from arming the Syrian rebel terrorists.
A simple three-page bill, the “Protecting Americans from the Proliferation of Weapons to Terrorists Act of 2013” – H.R.2494 and S. 1201 – would “prohibit the President from using any funds on activities that would escalate U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.”
This bipartisan effort to keep our arms out of Syria is sponsored by Rep. Christopher Gibson (NY-19), Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (TN-4), Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-3),Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1), Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12), Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr. (NC-3), Rep. Richard M. Nolan (MN-8), Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2), and Rep. Peter Welch (VT).
In the U.S. Senate, the bill has the support of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).
“Giving weapons to the Syrian opposition means, in all likelihood, that the United States will be arming and aiding extremist groups who seek to defeat us and our way of life,” says Rep. Michele Bachman. “To make the American taxpayer pay to send arms to our enemies is madness. Rather than unilateral foreign policy decision-making from the White House, there needs to be careful debate by Congress, as is our constitutional responsibility, and a clear strategy that is in line with America’s national security interests before any involvement is considered.”
Sen. Mike Lee says: “Any military involvement in Syria, including the arming of Syrian rebels, needs to be authorized through Congress, where concerns can be publicly debated and the American people can have a say. We have to ensure that we are not arming extremist groups who seek to cause chaos in the region and harm the United States and our allies. The long-term objectives of increased involvement in Syria are vague, as are the necessary commitments and costs. The United States cannot be involved in more nation building in the Middle East.”
“The President’s unilateral decision to arm Syrian rebels is incredibly disturbing,” says Sen. Rand Paul. “Engaging in yet another conflict in the Middle East with no vote or Congressional oversight compounds the severity of this situation. The American people deserve real deliberation by their elected officials before we send arms to a region rife with extremists who seek to threaten the U.S. and her allies.”
As President Obama plans to ship money and expensive military equipment to the Syrian rebels without the authorization of Congress, we need to take action, rally our elected servants, and demand that they stop him.
Sign the petition and send a free message to your elected servants demanding that they support H.R.2494 and S. 1201!
BBC News Syria crisis Fierce battle in Christian town Maaloula: