From Catholic Online
Syrian Christians are starting to align with the regime of Bashar al Assad as extremist rebels form an increasing number of the anti-regime fighters. Worried about their churches and homes, Christians are organizing into volunteer units and fighting alongside the regular Syrian army. There is a sense of stalemate and a need for negotiation to end the conflict.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – France 24 carried the story late last week of “John” a Christian fighting in Assad’s forces. John was interviewed by the agency who wanted to know why Christians, originally neutral in the conflict, have started to gravitate towards the Assad regime.
Christians are a major minority in Syria making about 5 percent of the population. A few have sided with the rebels, however the majority have tried to remain neutral, worried that an unfavorable outcome could bring post-war repercussions.
While Christians may not be major supporters of the Assad regime, they distrust the jihadists whose publicly stated goal is to turn Syria into an Islamic state with conversion to Islam made compulsory.
To accomplish their mission, jihadist fighters have targeted clergy, ransacked churches and shrines, and killed some Christians in their efforts to terrorize Christian enclaves into submission. The Free Syrian Army, that arm of the rebels recognized by the United States and its allies does not endorse the tactics of the jihadists, and has on some occasions actually clashed with them. However, the Syrian uprising is hugely dependent on the influx of al Qaeda-linked fighters and cannot continue without them.