03/01/2019 Syria (International Christian Concern) – The Syrian Christian city of Mhardeh is once again under attack, this time from the Jaysh al-Izza faction of the Free Syrian Army. The attack severely damaged a thermal power plant, which had an estimated 15 missiles fired at it, leaving thousands in the city without power. This traditionally Christian city has also become home to a large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from northern Hama.
Although the Syrian civil war has slowed considerably within the last year, the countryside remains filled with a complex network of militants, rebels, and splinter groups. Many have targeted Mhardeh in the hopes of gaining control of the city, which is currently governed by the Syrian government. Last year, an attack by the Free Syrian Army resulted in the deaths of at least 10 Christians and 20 wounded. The city was also frequently targeted by al-Qaeda and their splinter groups.
The Syrian civil war began eight years ago in 2011, and has resulted in violence which has completely destroyed the country and destabilized the region. Many of the rebels are attached to Islamist groups, and the government has historically restricted the religious freedom of Christians. Pressured from both sides, many Syrian Christians have chosen to flee the country. Those who remain are under intense hardship.
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