ICC Note: As the fighting between various rebel groups and the regime moves into new areas, tragic stories continue to emerge of the violence being directed at Syrian civilians, and particularly Christians. The groups among the opposition forces who are Islamic extremists have made a goal of targeting and eliminating the Christian population from Syria.
By Leonardo Blair
9/13/2013 Syria (Christian Post) - Ghastly attacks on Christians mocked as "Crusaders" in Syria continued unabated as Jihadists reportedly forced one man to convert to Islam at gunpoint and slit the throat of another Christian woman's fiancée and then told her, "Jesus didn't come to save him."
Residents who fled from the ancient town of Maalula in Syria told AFP that jihadists ambushed the town last week and forced a man to convert to Islam at gunpoint.
"They arrived in our town at dawn... and shouted 'We are from the Al-Nusra Front and have come to make lives miserable for the Crusaders," said one woman identified as Marie in Damascus, where many people from Maalula fled after rebels first attacked that town on Sept. 4.
One of the most renowned Christian towns in Syria, many of Maalula's approximately 5,000 residents speak Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Rebels want to tighten their control of the town for its strategic value as a launching point to level attacks on the highway between the capital and Homs, a key regime supply route.
On Tuesday, Marie and hundreds of others in exile in Damascus, attended the burial of three Christian pro-regime militiamen who were killed in fighting.
Adnan Nasrallah, 62, told AFP that an explosion destroyed an archway just across from his house that leads into Maalula during the fighting last week.
"I saw people wearing Al-Nusra headbands who started shooting at crosses," the Christian senior told the AFP. One of the shooters, he said, "put a pistol to the head of my neighbor and forced him to convert to Islam by obliging him to repeat 'there is no God but God'...Afterwards they joked, 'he's one of ours now'."
Nasrallah said he operated a restaurant, called Maalula, in the State of Washington in the U.S. for 42 years when he decided to return to Syria shortly before the uprising erupted in Syria in March 2011.
"I had a great dream. I came back to my country to promote tourism. I built a guesthouse and spent $2,000 installing a windmill to provide electricity in the town…My dream has gone up in smoke. Forty-two years of work for nothing," he lamented.
He said when the rebels came to town, his Muslim neighbors rejoiced. His sister Antoinette disputed that story, however, saying the people rejoicing were refugees from out of town.