“Much of the Christian population of the besieged Syrian city of Qusair has abandoned the town after an ‘ultimatum’ from the rebel military chief there,” reports Agenzia Fides, the official Vatican news agency.
6/10/2012 Syria (Los Angeles Times) – Much of the Christian population of the besieged Syrian city of Qusair has abandoned the town after an “ultimatum” from the rebel military chief there, reports Agenzia Fides, the official Vatican news agency.
The ultimatum expired Thursday, the agency reported, adding that most of the city’s 10,000 Christians have fled the city, situated in the battleground province of Homs.
“Some mosques in the city have relaunched the message, announcing from the minarets: ‘Christians must leave Quasir,’ ” read the report from the Vatican agency, which has sought to document the parlous plight of Syria’s ancient Christian community.
Qusair has been the site of intense clashes for months between armed rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. The strategic city is close to the Lebanese border and has been a smuggling hub for arms and medicines destined for rebel forces in the embattled city of Homs, about 15 miles to the northeast, which has already seen its large Christian population flee, the Vatican agency reported.
The Vatican agency cited “sources” who said that extremist Islamist groups in the ranks of the Qusair rebels “consider Christians ‘infidels,’ confiscate goods, commit brief executions and are ready to start a ‘sectarian war.’ ”
Families fleeing Qusair have gone to nearby villages and to Damascus, the capital, the agency report said. “Some families, very few, sought valiantly to stay in their home town,” reported Agenzia Fides, “but no one knows what fate they will suffer.”