"On the day of the resurrection of Christ, and from the heart of Ma’loula, President Assad hopes all Syrians have a happy Easter, and for the reestablishment of peace and security throughout Syria."
The President of Syria
On the occasion of Easter Sunday and as a mark of solidarity with all that Maaloula has endured the President of Syria, the Vatican’s Nuncio to Syria and the heads of several of Syria’s Christian communities in the company of Muslim clerics made special visits to the now liberated town. The majority Christian town and UNESCO world heritage site was one of only 3 places left in the world where the Aramaic language of Christ was still spoken. The town fell in to the hands of terrorists twice over, thousands fled, some were kidnapped others killed and the entire town looted and torched by western backed forces.
Left: Archbishop Mario Zenari, the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio to Syria and the Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch Gregorius III survey some of the damage to the ruined Monetary of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, Maaloula. The monastery, one of the world’s oldest, was destroyed when the town was seized by NATO backed FSA (“free” Syrian Army) rebels working in concert with Jabhat al Nusra the official al-Qaeda in Syria. Inset: The monastery Church before it was destroyed.
Maaloula was first attacked on Wednesday the 4th of September 2013, at around 6 a.m. the town, against its will, was submerged into violence by an invasion from terrorist rebels. A suicide bomber attacked an army checkpoint on the outskirts of the town killing 12 soldiers. Rebels subsequently attacked members of the local civil defence and succeeded in overrunning the centre of the town.
The towns 3,300 inhabitants, mostly Christian and some Muslim, all fled for their lives and by the time the rebels were forced out of the town it is estimated that 25 soldiers and 20 civilians were dead, many more were injured and several of the town’s residents were kidnapped. In the aftermath only 50 civilian residents remained in the town, inclusive of 13 nuns and 3 lay women at the convent of St Tekla.
The town was again attacked on the 30th of November 2013 by rebel terrorists when they rolled large truck tyres, packed with explosives, off the cliffs that overlook the town. This caused serious damage to homes and monasteries beneath. The explosions also caused fires which spread from house to house in the densely packed ancient town. The army were forced to withdraw to outside of the town, which also led to the withdrawal of some of the men who were still in residence. Those who did not get out in time were shot dead. No one was left but the nuns. After taking control of the town the rebels made their way to the convent of St. Tekla and use explosives to blow open the ancient metal doors and gain access to the building. Jabhat al Nusra, the official al-Qaeda in Syria, kidnapped the 13 nuns, one as old as 90, and 3 lay women helpers from the convent.
They were taken against their will to the rebel controlled town of Yabroud. Maaloula was systematically looted and destroyed and the ancient convent church of St. Tekla was desecrated. Reports say that having looted the valuables the rebels urinated and defecated in the sanctuary and then set fire to the church. The nuns were released in March 2014 but only after an exchange of prisoners and the payment of a large ransom to al-Qaeda.
President Basher al Assad made a special Easter Sunday visit to the liberated town of Maaloula. The president accompanied by a priest surveyed the damage at the ruined monastery of Saints Sergius and Bacchus and also visit the ruined convent of St. Tekla as well as viewing other parts of the town. On the occasion of the visit the president said that "On the day of the resurrection of Christ, and from the heart of Ma’loula, President Assad hopes all Syrians have a happy Easter, and for the reestablishment of peace and security throughout Syria."
Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia [Theodosios (Atallah Hanna)] directed a congratulatory and solidarity message to the Syrian people on the occasion of the Easter, hoping that God will save Syria, its people and army.
Archbishop Hanna said that President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to Maaloula village in Damascus
Countryside and inspecting the damage caused to its monasteries by the armed terrorist groups indicates that he is not only Syria’s President but also a father of all the Syrians, Christians and Muslims.
“The President’s visit comes in a time when some extremist and savage armed terrorist groups in Syria are imposing tributes on Christians and preventing them from practicing their rituals or rising their crosses …the President came to say no to extremism, terrorism and brutality… he came to advocate amity, fraternity, national unity and tolerance among the Christians and Muslims in this region,” he added.
Archbishop Hanna expressed the solidarity of the Palestinians in the occupied Jerusalem with Syria, stressing that this visit just like plenty previous others indicates the failure of the conspiracy that cannot undermine Syria’s unity. Original article here
Tala al-Barazi the governor of Homs province makes a courtesy visit, on the occasion of Easter, to the communities of the Wadi al-Nasara (the Valley of the Christians). Across the valley the security situation for the villagers has improved greatly since government forces succeeded in dislodging the terrorist groups who were holed up in the mountain top Krak des Chevaliers, a crusader era castle also known as al-Husn Fort. The structure dominated the region. The population of the valley at the start of the conflict was 150,000 but this has swollen to 250,000 as other Christians fled here to find refuge and safety in numbers.
An example of the type of trauma the people of the valley have endured.
Screen captures from a video which shows the takfiri terrorist group Jund al Sham (Soldiers of the Levant) undertaking the ritualised slaughter of 3 men in civilian clothing. The atrocity appears to have occurred within the precinct of the Krak des Chevaliers crusader castle in the Wadi al Nasara (the Valley of the Christians) where the terrorist group had been based until they were dislodged by government forces in late March 2014.