Patrick Cobourn hadde en artikkel om den kristne syriske byen Maloula i Independent i september, som trenger å bevares. Maloula er den eneste byen hvor man fortsatt snakker vest-arameisk, språket Jesus snakket.
What happened during the capture of Maloula is revealed in convincing detail by Matthew Barber in the online newsletter Syria Comment. He has rapidly combined film and statements by the insurgents with phone interviews with local people. The result is that, unlike most episodes in the Syrian war, it is possible to follow events with a fair degree of accuracy.
I sekterisk krig piskes motsetninger opp og folk forvandles til hevnere:
Going by their own declarations, the rebel units were mostly from jihadi groups led by the al-Qa’ida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and including the Ahrar al-Sham, the Baba Amr brigade and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) commando unit. Local people say they were aided by Sunni Muslim refugees from the militant town of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus.
This is not a story of sectarian bloodbath, but the Christians in Maloula must have worried that it could turn into one. One rebel group called the operation a case of «an eye for an eye» in retaliation for the poison gas attack on rebel-held Ghouta on 21 August. There are postings with quotes from the Koran saying «Allah give us patience and victory over the infidel». Pictures taken by the insurgents show the bodies of Syrian army soldiers killed by the suicide bomber. The insurgent fighters finally retreated, but not before they had demonstrated that they considered Maloula a stronghold of government supporters. As with other such clashes, the government sent aircraft to bomb rebel positions, a tactic that has done so much to turn millions of Syrians into refugees inside and outside the country.
Det var på denne tiden Kerry kom med sin uttalelse i Kongressen hvor han bagatelliserte jihadistenes rolle.
The occupation of Maloula illuminates other developments in Syria that differ markedly from what is being reported by the media or said by the Obama administration in an attempt to win Congressional assent for air strikes. On 5 September, the very day the al-Nusra stormed Maloula, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, told a Congressional hearing about the rebels: «I just don’t agree that a majority are al-Qa’ida and the bad guys. That’s not true. There are about 70,000 to 100,000 oppositionists… Maybe 15 per cent to 25 per cent might be in one group or another who are what we would deem to be bad guys.» Rebel commanders have been happily assuring American newspaper columnists that the supposedly moderate FSA is dominant around Damascus, unlike northern and eastern Syria.