Reports of Torture from Christian Survivors in Syria

Survivors Recount Horrors in Aramaic-Speaking Syrian Town

ICC Note:

It is no secret that Christians in Syria are targets, and suffering greatly, in the war in Syria.  Disturbing reports continue to flow from the region, including those of strangulation, and that of an entire Christian family murdered and thrown down a well.

11-7-2013 Syria (Zenit)– Inhabitants of Sadad, near Homs, who fled the largely Syrian Orthodox town when rebels attacked last month, are now returning home to discover the scale of atrocities in what is being seen as the worst act of anti-Christian persecution since the war in Syria began.

The reports, sent by Church leaders to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, describe how, in this ancient Christian town mentioned in the Bible (Ezekiel), vulnerable people unable to escape – including the elderly, disabled, women and children – were subjected to torture, such as strangulation. Church sources say 30 bodies were found in two separate mass graves.

Discovered dead in a well in Sadad were the remains of six members of one family including Matanios El Sheikh, 85, his wife, Habsah, 75, their daughter, Njala, 45, and grandsons Ranim, aged 18, a first-year university student, and his 16-year-old brother Fadi, in class XI at school.

Reports state they were thrown down a well on 26th October along with the boys’ paternal grandmother, 90-year-old Mariam. Their funerals, which took place Monday, Nov. 4, came as a community, whose town dates back to 2000 BC, begins to grieve the loss of those being described as “martyrs” by Church leaders.

The atrocities took place during a week-long occupation of Sadad by the Al-Nusra Front and Daash, rebel forces who, according to Church leaders, held 1,500 families as “human shields” in a bid to stop government troops retaking the village.

The tragedy in Sadad began Oct. 21 when rebel forces invaded the town and carried out what Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, called the “most serious and biggest massacre of Christians” since the conflict began in Syria in March 2011, the Fides news agency reported.

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