The Syrian government’s use of sarin gas on civilians has seen US President Trump and Russian President Putin at loggerheads after months of seeming mutual respect between them.
After Trump ordered an air strike on Syrian government military bases, seemingly carried out without prior consultation and voting agreement at the United Nations, Putin expressed ‘anger’ at the US air strike.
As tension mounts between the two superpowers once again, Christians on the ground in Syria and Iraq are facing intensified attacks on all fronts. According to reports from Barnabas Fund, the fighting has now shifted to the edge of the Syrian capital Damascus, in the south west of the country.
Damascus was where many Iraqi Christians fled when jihadists began a targeted campaign of attacks on churches and Christians in 2004. A year after the Western military intervention, attacks have continued ever since. Damascus is also where many Syrian Christians have fled to, as jihadists have taken over their homes elsewhere in Syria.
Moreover, the Barnabas report said: ‘Aleppo’s elderly are especially vulnerable, with many unable to even get to a hospital. Although there has been some fighting on the edge of Damascus for some time, it is clear that many jihadist groups now see attacking Damascus as their primary focus.
‘The jihadist groups include some who are known to have carried out atrocities against Christians, including Fatah al Sham (formerly known as the al Qaeda affiliate ‘al Nusra Front’) and Ahrar al Sham’.
These two groups were together responsible for the 2013 attack on the ancient Christian town of Maloula, about 35 miles from Damascus. When that town was captured, those from its predominantly Christian population who had not fled were given the choice of conversion to Islam or being beheaded.