ASIA/SYRIA - Churches devastated and icons desecrated in Maalula
Maalula (Agenzia Fides) - After the reconquest of the Christian village of Maalula - 55 km northeast of Damascus - by the Syrian government army, the images and descriptions released by government sources and international news agencies also document the devastation committed against Christian places of worship during the four months in which the city was under the occupation of the rebel militias. In particular, serious damages were carried out against the Greek-Melkite shrine of Mar Sarkis, where the church is destroyed, the floor is covered with religious objects, images and sacred books are damaged, the icons kept in the sacristy are missing and there are no bells or the cross surmounting the dome of the Greek-Melkite monastery. The sanctuary, founded at the end of the fifth century, is dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus, Roman soldiers martyred for their faith under the Emperor Galerius. (A.D. 250-311).
Before being devastated by the civil war, the village of Maalula - which now appears uninhabited – was inhabited by 5 thousand Syrians, the vast majority were Christians (Greek-Catholic and Greek-Orthodox). The reconquest of Sarkha, Maalula and Jibbeh is the result of the offensive with which the Syrian government army took control of almost all of the region of Qalamun. In this offensive the Syrian military units are supported by the Lebanese Shiite militia of Hezbollah. The three operators of the Hezbollah television station al-Manar TV were killed by rounds fired by snipers while they were documenting the reconquest of Maalula. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 15/04/2014)
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