ASIA/SYRIA - Idlib in the hands of jihadists. Orthodox priest kidnapped

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Idlib (Agenzia Fides) - The city of Idlib has fallen into the hands of anti-Assad jihadist militias since Saturday, March 28, and there is news of violence and discrimination against the Christian inhabitants of the city.
According to various local sources consulted by Agenzia Fides, the Islamist militia kidnapped the Greek Orthodox priest Ibrahim Farah, 57, who led the Greek-Orthodox parish dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and had decided to stay and not to leave the city before the offensive of the various anti-government rebel groups that participated in the conquest of the city.
According to social media, the priest is waiting to appear before one of the Islamic courts set up by the jihadists in the territories which have fallen under their control. In addition to the priest, even other lay Christians of the parish were kidnapped. The seizure is attributed by many to the Al-Nusra Front, formation close to al-Qaida and active in the Syrian conflict, which in the past also clashed militarily with jihadists of the Islamic State (Is).
Before the Civil War, there were over a thousand Christians in the city of Idlib, concentrated in certain areas in the center. Most of them left their homes before the offensive of the rebel groups, and moved to nearby towns of Mhardeh, Ariha and Banyas. Idlib, in north-west Syria, strategically located 25 kilometers from the Turkish border, is the second provincial capital to fall into the hands of jihadists after Raqqa, in the hands of the Islamic State since 2013. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 01/04/2015)