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War-weary from months of fighting, one community attempts to co-exist with rebel militias.
ICC Note: While people from every political, ethnic, and religious background are suffering in Syria’s civil war, Christians have found themselves in a very unique and frightening situation, having widely chosen not to take up arms or to openly support either the rebels or the regime. Of particular concern is the rise of kidnappings of Christians for ransom, similar to what was seen throughout the war in Iraq. In this article, The Atlantic reports on how Christians are faring in the battle-scarred city of Ras al-Ayn.
By Danny Gold
4/18/2013 Syria (The Atlantic) – George Abdulahad stood on his balcony in the Syrian city of Ras al-Ayn filling in bullet holes with plaster. His apartment, like many in the Christian neighborhood, lay gutted, the walls destroyed by an RPG or some sort of incendiary device. The fighting had been over for nearly a month now, but Abdulahad still seemed devastated by his newfound homelessness. “Where can I go, I don’t know,” said the 58-year-old man. “There is no electricity, no water. The living here is like living in a coffin.”
On Easter Sunday, the churches that follow the traditional Christian calendar in this Syrian border town lay empty. They haven’t had services for four months, and most of their congregations have fled or are picking through the rubble. Some fear that another round of fighting will break out. A recent spate of kidnappings has also cast a shadow over the Christian residents of this diverse city in northeastern Syria.
Those still left in the city feel defenseless among the current vacuum of authority. Despite a truce currently in place, the constant presence of heavily armed rebel soldiers from different warring factions does little to assuage their fears. “There are so many battles in this city, I don’t feel safe. There is no one in charge, no government,” Abdulahad says. “I am afraid of anyone with a gun.”

In an article written for a Christian Orthodox website, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Eusthathius Matta Roham called the Islamists, without naming Jabhat specifically, a great threat to the lives of Syrian Christians in Ras al-Ayn. He also praised the YPG for rooting out the rebels and protecting the Christian neighborhood.
Like many other Christians interviewed, a 24-year-old Christian named Diana refuses to answer questions about the specific armed factions. “We don’t know about the fighting groups. All we want is the fighting to stop,” she said. “My home has been destroyed, everyone has left.”
I asked her who she was scared of. “Everyone,” she replied. “My future is gone.”
Previously she had studied in Aleppo, but she rarely leaves her neighborhood now.
Of particular concern to the Christians is kidnapping, which only some would admit seems specifically targeted at Christians. The week before we arrived, two local Christian men were kidnapped after they went searching for a stolen car. It’s unclear who’s doing the kidnapping. Many speculate it’s simply criminal gangs trying to make money.

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