Met. Philips draws a line between the original Syrian opposition that sought expanded freedoms and the foreign Al-Qaeda fighters seeking the extermination of Christians.
(Here & Now) - Syrian military forces continue to battle Islamic rebels near the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, Syria, where some residents still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.Complete article here.
Most Maaloula residents have fled, but nuns and orphans remain holed up in Mar Tekla, one of the town’s two early Christian monasteries.
They are members of the eastern orthodox Church of Antioch. Its leader in the U.S., Metropolitan Philip Saliba, is concerned about their safety.
Philip is a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He joined church leaders in calling for a special “Day of Solidarity” in churches yesterday, with a special collection made for victims in Syria “who are suffering so terribly.”
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
It's HERE AND NOW, and before the break we heard about a report from the U.N. today in which inspectors concluded that there is clear and convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used against civilians on a large scale in Syria last month. Meanwhile, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic group the Al-Nusra Front is claiming responsibility for killing at least 30 members of President Assad's minority Alawite sect during an attack on three villages in central Syria this last week. And Syrian military forces continue to battle rebels near the ancient Christian town of Ma'loula.
Now that is home to some of the oldest Christian sites in Syria, including a convent where nuns and orphans remain holed up, refusing to leave as fighting rages around the city. They are members of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Antioch, and their leader here in the U.S., Archbishop Philip Saliba, is concerned about them. He joins us on the line from his office in Englewood, New Jersey, Archbishop Saliba, tell us more about your fears.
ARCHBISHOP PHILIP SALIBA: My concern is about St. Thecla's Convent and other holy places in Syria, which are threatened. The people of Ma'loula still speak the language of Christ, the Aramaic language, and this is the uniqueness of this town, and we are worried about its destruction. Already 400 families have left from Ma'loula. They fled to Damascus.
YOUNG: Can you describe it more? Describe the sites that are there...