The situation for Christians in the midst of the on-going civil war in Syria is extremely difficult. As the United States pursues a policy to arm some of the rebel groups opposing President Bashar al-Assad the minority Christian group has become the target of violence from Islamic extremists within the opposition group. The on-going violence that has claimed nearly 100,000 lives has been costly for all Syrians but Christians are among the most vulnerable groups.
6/26/2013 Syria (World) – Despite widespread religious persecution in countries like war-torn Syria, the Obama administration is still opposed to creating a special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East, according to a State Department official who testified before Congress on Tuesday.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia made the comments at a joint subcommittee hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing room regarding the plight of religious minorities in Syria.
Last week President Barack Obama announced the United States would begin arming Syrian rebels, purportedly because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons against his own people—which Obama had publicly characterized as a red line for U.S. intervention.
On Tuesday, Melia said the State Department is working to ensure that U.S. weapons and logistical support only go to the “most high-minded” of Syria’s opposition forces. But as WORLD has previously reported, those determinations are anything but easy in the wake of Islamic extremists flooding the country (see Mindy Belz’s June 1 WORLD Magazine cover story, “Turning Syria inside out”).
When Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, asked how the administration would determine who was “high-minded” enough to receive aid, Melia said the precise vetting process is “above my pay grade.” But the four witnesses who followed Melia didn’t mince words in describing the grim situation in the country of 20 million people, where the death toll approaches 90,000 in a civil war that began in 2011.