10 Killed, 20 Wounded in Assault on Syrian Christian Town

By Claire Evans

09/11/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on September 7-8, 2018, several missiles were reportedly fired by al-Qaeda-linked rebels toward the predominately Christian town of Mhardeh, Syria. Reports indicate that the missiles carried cluster bombs, killing at least 10 civilians and seriously wounding at least 20 others.

The densely populated town of Mhardeh is controlled by the Syrian government, which has retaliated by attacking nearby towns as part of the build-up to the offensive against Idlib Province. The province is the last remaining stronghold controlled by the opposition.

Al-Masdar News reported, “Due to its proximity to the jihadist held towns in northern Hama, Mhardeh has been a prime target for groups like Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The jihadist rebels launch this attack this evening in response to the large scale buildup of Syrian army troops in northwest Syria.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the attack against Mhardeh was launched by a faction called Ansar al-Tawhid, which “caused a massacre of 10 casualties. They are: a mother, her 3 children, their grandmother, as well as 2 other sisters and 3 other people… Ansar al-Tawhid claimed responsibility of the operation of targeting Muhradah town, where reliable sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that a four-wheel drive vehicle (4×4) with a missile launcher was noticed with another vehicle approaching a city controlled by the opposition, where it fired missiles targeting Muhradah town, then it withdrew from the area.” The Ansar al-Tawhid is connected to al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

“As the Syrian war enters what is expected to be the deadliest conflict yet, we must keep the Christians who are trapped in the region in our prayers.”

Syrian Christians for Peace published a statement which “condemns the bombing of the town of Mahreda on the 7th and 8th of September of the year 2018. The bombardment of the city’s residents on both sides, the terrorist factions on the one hand and the Assad regime on the other, where the bombing resulted in the death of a large number of unarmed civilians, including children. This painful incident, leads to more sectarian incitement and leads to the break of human relations and the abolition of the foundations of citizenship among the people of Syria.”

Opposition-run Shaam News Network reported, “The regime and Russia began to use this massacre to continue the shelling of Idlib and Hama. The reality of the bombing was quickly revealed after the publication of pages loyal to the regime posted images of the remnants of cluster bombs, which are internationally banned and carried by the missiles that hit the city. These types of missiles are owned only by the Assad forces.”

Syria’s civil war began in 2011. It has been defined by unprecedented violence and human rights violations. The situation, combined with an absence of accountability and transparency, has significantly impacted the presence of Christians in the country.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The massacre of innocent Christian civilians, including children, in Mhardeh is a tragedy of great proportions. The carnage of Syria’s civil war has left Christians disproportionately affected, as they have been violently targeted by all sides and factions. As the Syrian war enters what is expected to be the deadliest conflict yet, we must keep the Christians who are trapped in the region in our prayers.”

For interviews with Claire Evans, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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