Regime takes Christian town as rebels fight to recapture it
October 29, 2013
FIGHTING FOR CHRISTIANS:The FSA’s leader of the Homs front, General Fahed Hassoun, reminds FSA battalions fighting in Homs province to respect their rules of combat, which he says includes protecting Syrian villages and towns home to Christian majorities. The video, released Monday, comes one day after Syrian state television broadcast a report from the ancient Christian town of Sadad, which dates back to 2,000 B.C., showing regime forces in control of the town and claiming that rebels destroyed the houses of civilians and the old Syriac Aramaic Church of Mar-Tiedors.
“The Assad regime is trying to distort the image of the FSA and its well-mannered fighters,” General Hassoun says in the rebels’ response to the regime’s allegations. “The whole world knows that the regime’s words about protecting minorities are false and not true,” he added.
“The people of Sadad and other villages with Christian majorities that do not support the regime are peaceful people, and you have to protect and help them with everything you got – don’t insult the churches or their crosses,” Hassoun says. “Give them help and aid when they need it; give them the freedom to leave or to come back. Do not stay in their way and help them to do what they want.”
Sadad is 60 kilometers south of Homs city and in the middle of Homs province. It also lies between Mahin village and al-Kalamon in Outer Damascus which is under rebels’ control. The Syrian Observatory reported Monday that violent clashes have continued around Sadad and the Sunni majority town of Mahin for more than a week, with an estimated 100 regime soldiers and dozens of rebel fighters killed. Last Monday, two suicide bombers detonated at the gas line and a regime base outside Sadad and then entered the town. It is still not clear who was behind the attack, with some reports identifying ISIS and others the FSA. The ostensible purpose to capturing Sadad, which was previously neutral, was to clear the way to capture the town of Mahin to control the ammunition stockpiles there. Regime forces repelled the attempt and recaptured most of the Mahin as well as Sadad.
On October 26, the Christian Assyrian Network called for humanitarian aid for Sadad’s population and to “enforce an immediate truce between the fighting parties, even if for a few hours, to evacuate the injured people and deliver water and medicine to civilians.” The Assyrian Network also reported that regime forces conducted air raids on the city on the pretext of clearing it from “terrorists.”
Sadad has sheltered thousands of displaced people formerly living in the Old City of Homs. The people of Sadad have repeatedly refused the regime’s offers to arm them, with town leaders saying they enjoy good relationships with the surrounding villages.