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SYRIA: CHRISTIANS IMPERILLED AS BATTLE FOR IDLIB LOOMS
by Elizabeth Kendal
|click on map to enlarge|
As the final showdown looms, the US, the UK and France are preparing to launch military strikes. According to US officials who are establishing the narrative, Assad [is so stupid that he] has approved the use of chlorine gas, the very thing that would trigger coordinated military strikes from the US, UK and France. Actually, the US has stated any escalation of the conflict will trigger massive retaliatory strikes. Of course we have seen all this before [see Religious Liberty Monitoring (RLM), label: Syria]. Frantic talks are underway to see if a major conflagration and humanitarian catastrophe can be averted. On Monday 17 September Russia brokered a deal with the jihadists' patron, Turkey, to establish a 15-20km wide demilitarised jihadist/terrorist-free zone in Idlib. Now all Turkey's President Erdogan needs to do is separate all the 'good' and reasonable 'rebels' from the bad transnational jihadists/ terrorists who must then agree to retreat north. Al-Qaeda's emir in Idlib, Abu Mohammad al-Julani (Golani), has vowed to continue fighting Assad. Refusing to surrender, his group -- now known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham-- is instead promising 'many military surprises'. Mainstream Western media repeatedly lament that the fate of Idlib is in the hands of outsiders. But as Syrians rightly note, Idlib's fate is in the hands of Idlib's 'rebels', jihadists and terrorists; the ball is in their court.
If conflict does escalate, Christians will again be gravely imperilled, just as they were during the liberation of Aleppo [RLPB 382 (12 Nov 2016) and RLPB 373 (31 Aug 2016)] and the liberation of Eastern Ghouta [RLPB 438 (17 Jan 2018)]. For the 'rebels' will target them with retaliatory strikes.
|Funeral, Mhardeh, 8 Sept 2018|
Greek Orthodox Church of St. George,
see World Watch Monitor
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:
* intervene with power and grace to ensure Syria remains secular and safe for Christians and other religious minorities; may the transnational jihadists and proxy militias serving fundamentalist Islam and foreign powers be defeated; may foreign powers refrain from illegal actions; may the war soon come to an end and may peace and prosperity return to Syria.
* redeem all suffering; may the trauma of war serve only to open eyes and soften hearts so that many will receive the saving gospel and transforming wisdom of Jesus Christ.
* comfort Mhardeh's grieving, traumatised and deeply anxious Christians; may the Lord shield them, encourage them and supply all their needs; may the Lord give 'strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate' (Isaiah 28:5-6 ESV).
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA IMPERILLED AS BATTLE FOR IDLIB LOOMS
Bordering Turkey, Idlib has been an al-Qaeda stronghold since March 2015. The battle to liberate Idlib is destined to be the largest battle of the Syrian war. On 17 September Russia brokered a deal with the jihadist's patron, Turkey, to establish a 15-20 km wide demilitarised terrorist-free zone in Idlib. The Syrian government has opened humanitarian corridors to facilitate the escape of civilians. However, displaced Syrians report that their relatives in Idlib are being held against their will as human shields. Al-Qaeda's emir in Idlib has already vowed to fight, promising surprises. If conflict escalates, the jihadists will target Christians in retaliation. On 7 September 10 people (including five children) were killed when rebel mortars struck Syria's largest Christian city, Mhardeh, in northern Hama. Please pray for Syria and its Christians.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).