The Syrian army controls the field

By Ghaleb Kandil

Western reports and press articles emphasize the rout of terrorist gangs in Syria and divisions that undermine their ranks. At the same time, the political Syrian opposition created by the West is bankrupt.

The latest developments in the field showed that the Syrian Arab Army (ASA) is advancing, and taking control of many troubled regions. It has liquidated rebel strongholds. According to reports in the Western press, terrorist groups sponsored by Turkey and the Gulf monarchies and manipulated by the United States, have amassed tens of thousands of multinational terrorists. Thousands of them were killed during the military offensives, and infighting is tearing their ranks after their strategic failures. Western reporters embedded in terrorist groups could not hide this moribund and bloody battles for booty and ammunition, mainly caused by the drying up of funding. The "ideological and political divisions", encouraged by al-Nosra qaïdiste Front, which wants to liquidate all its competitors, are held in more than one region.

Western reports recognize that the Syrian state has extended its control over large areas, and contrary to some reports, the government would control 80% of the territory and all major cities and the surrounding countryside. Clashes with terrorist gangs are concentrated in the countryside close to the Turkish border in the provinces of Idleb and Aleppo and some neighboring Lebanon bastions in the countryside of Damascus and Homs.

The decision to create a popular forces, called National Defence Force, composed of reservists, is a strategic development, which has begun to show its consequences on the ground. In Aleppo, for example, 20,000 youth were enrolled in a week in the ranks of the Republican Guard after the authorization given to recruits to serve in their regions of origin. Defence Forces is a sign of a strong national unity, a factor needed to win the war against terror.

The Western and Israeli strategic experts ensure that the Syrian army, while resisting the terror war, planned and financed by the colonial and imperialist, has managed to preserve intact its military units to respond to any Israeli ground offensive or foreign intervention. It has retained its strategic capabilities of national defense.

In addition to the military capabilities of the Syrian state, the allies of Damascus intensified and adapted their multifaceted assistance through a partnership relationship against hegemonic plans of Americans.

The Russian army warned against any foreign military intervention in Syria, which would cause a catastrophe on the scale of the entire region. General Valery Girassimov said that his country was closely monitoring the deployment of Patriot missile batteries, in Turkey. "Our partners have announced that the missiles will not be used to establish a no-fly zone, over Syria," he told a press conference after a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels. "The position of Russia is to let the Syrians care to resolve the crisis, and Moscow rejects any foreign interference, which could be catastrophic for the region," he added.

Iran, meanwhile, ran its commitment to support the government and the Syrian people, through the signing of an agreement allowing Damascus to borrow from Iran up to a billion dollars at preferential interest rates.

Faced with these unavoidable realities, Westerners are looking for an exit strategy but still refuse to admit defeat.

Thus, the coming months will be rich in developments, characterized by the strengthening of the influence of the Syrian state throughout the field. This equation inevitably compel Washington to accept the mechanisms of ending violence, which necessary conditions are stop funding and arming terrorist groups.

Who wanted to assassinate Faisal Karami?

By Pierre Khalaf

Lebanese Minister of Youth and Sports, Faisal Karamy, a political heir of a great Sunni family supporting the resistance against Israel, escaped, on Friday, Jan. 18, an assassination attempt, which injured five his bodyguards. According Karami, this attack was to destabilize the city of Tripoli.

The attack occurred near al-Nour Square, in Tripoli, where families and friends of the Lebanese Islamist extremists killed in Tall Kalakh, Syria, observed a sit-in. Gunfire and explosions erupted, an 4x4 caught fire after being hit by a grenade. Dozens of supporters in anger headed to the Karami family home, where the Lebanese army has deployed reinforcements to prevent any incident.

Karami said he couldn’t accuse one "yet." "Our family has offered a martyr (his uncle, Rashid Karami was assassinated in 1987 while he was Prime Minister, The Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea was convicted of the murder) in Lebanon and will again", he said. According to Karami, the goal of this attack is to "destabilize the situation in the country, particularly the safety of the city of Tripoli." "I was in my car when gunfire erupted from all sides. Then Energa grenade was fired and a car caught fire completely. Five of my chababs (men) were directly injured. I do not know if we can call this incident other than an assassination attempt." Calling on his supporters to calm, the minister said that "some people want to plunge the country into civil war." "We must preserve the security of Tripoli because we have no other choice but to live in our city. I was targeted because I represent the voice of moderation and I always say that Tripoli is not for extremists", said Mr Karami.


Michel Sleiman, President of the Lebanese Republic

«Some were to blame those who supported the project they had approved themselves, rather than defend it. The voices who say the president is detached from the Christian consensus must stop. Without the advice of the President of the Republic, one cannot speak of Christian consensus. The Head of State could be criticized only if he is to dissociate from the national consensus. The elections should be held on time and all must cooperate so that electoral law is developed. It is extremely shameful that we do not succeed for once without external supervision

Nabih Berri, Speaker of the House (March-8 movement)

«I’m not with the Greek Orthodox project because I believe in it, but because it has the support of the Christians. We must consider what reassures Christians, because if we do not, we Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis, we will be blowing national unity. We cannot live without each other. We do not belong to different ethnic groups. Give me one Lebanese family who did not have relatives in other religious groups. Our problem is not the religious community, but sectarianism. In any case we must take into account the feelings of Christians, and the best law is the one who gets the endorsement of all Lebanese»

Michel Aoun, leader of Free Patriotic Movement

«The issue of the electoral law is not just a new text that should be discussed in terms of national consensus. It is a matter of political rights mentioned in the Constitution. The electoral law is a way to implement the Constitution so that the rights of all are protected. Political rights obey the constitutional texts and note a voting process»

Amine Gemayel, former Lebanese President (March-14 coalition)

«I refuse to despair and Lebanon have the means to move forward. This is the first time that the Lebanese should agree on an electoral law without foreign intervention, whereas in previous years, he had to go to Taif, Doha and elsewhere. The 1960 Act is a gross injustice to Christians. We are open to all proposals provided that they ensure fair representation Christian


Ø Al Akhbar Lebanese daily reported that the head of the Future movement (FM) in Beirut, the retired general Mahmoud al-Jamal, leans back on the military structure of the FM in the capital. In this context, Mr. al-Jamal held a week ago a consultation meeting with 18 senior FM Tarik Jdide, Aisha Bakkar and Mulla, in the presence of former supporters of Fatah movement.

Ø During the 44th session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Information, at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Information Minister Walid Daouk, reaffirmed Lebanon’s refusal to suspend the broadcasting of Al-Manar television Radio Al-Nour (Hezbollah) on satellites, saying that they are subject to the laws and sovereignty of Lebanon. Mr. Daouk said that some Arab countries have called for the suspension of the Lebanese media broadcast by Arabsat and Nilesat, but he was pleased to have block such an initiative.

Ø According to the Lebanese daily Ad-Diyar, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, does not live in a basement. This common misconception is only an Israeli propaganda. It happens that he walks during the day. However, he does not have a fixed address. His comrades in the leadership of the party open for him the doors of their houses. He chose one at the last minute to spend the night with his two or three bodyguards.

Ø The head of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Walid Jumblatt said that Russia had promised to help resolve the crisis of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. "Moscow will contribute financially and politically to resolve the crisis of Syrian refugees in Lebanon", Jumblatt said after a meeting in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Press review

As Safir (Lebanese daily, close to the majority, January 18, 2013)

Mohammad Ballout, Paris

The French government has taken another step on the path that will make the case of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah a Franco-Lebanese crisis, due to U.S. explicit pressure. It is difficult to explain the French position other than submission to U.S. pressure, as well as the attempts of political revenge among both Americans and some members of the French government, in defiance of all justice and any application of the law.

How else to explain that the French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira waited a week before calling to ask the Supreme Court to review the verdict of the Court of Appeal for the release of Georges Abdallah. A week is a long time in a relatively important matter.

The request of the Department of Justice through the prosecutor, claiming the referral to the Court of Cassation, coincided with a second query that uses the deadline to the French Ministry of the Interior requesting that it be considered null and void. The prosecutor said in a statement that in his opinion, the Court of Appeal should have declared the parole request of Georges Abdallah inadmissible, given the absence of expulsion, a prerequisite for the examination of this application.

This double burden makes it highly unlikely the release from prison of Georges Abdallah in the near future. It also closes the door to any official intervention of Lebanese politics: the case was again handed over to judicial authorities, after a week, the appearance of a purely political issue whose fate depended on the Minister of Interior Manuel Valls. Abdullah’s supporters may no longer accuse France of his continued detention for political reasons. More, the French government and enemies of Georges Abdallah are now able to hide again behind the French justice by saying that it is impossible to comment on the case before the Court of Cassation has rendered its verdict.

Lebanese-French contacts made in recent hours have, in any event, revealed differences within the French government in this case. The Foreign Ministry was indeed inclined to share the view calling to expel Georges Abdallah and not to jeopardize relations between France and Lebanon. The Ministry of the Interior had another opinion. This ministry is led by Manuel Valls, one of the hawks on the right wing of the Socialist Party, a strong friend of Israel.

An Nahar (Lebanese Daily, close to march-14 coalition)

Khalil Fleihane (January 18, 2013)

Whenever the United States involved in a case concerning Lebanon, they do at its costs. The examples are numerous. In this framework is the refusal by the U.S. to pressure Israel on the issue of Lebanon’s maritime resources in order to bring Tel Aviv to end its control over 850 km² maritime area of Lebanon containing significant oil and gas resources. Moreover, Washington’s intervention in the case of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah is another example. This raises several questions about the reasons behind the decision of the continued detention of a prisoner who was incarcerated for 29 years. Whatever the explanations given by the court regarding the decision to postpone the release of Georges Abdallah, the fact remains that for supporters of former Lebanese militant, they are related to pressure by the United States on France.

An Nahar (January 17, 2013)

Rosanna Bou Mouncef

Information circulated in political circles that President Bashar al-Assad will leave power in a period not exceeding the first six months of the year. But Western countries, particularly in Europe, have abandoned these speculations and stopped making predictions about the approach of the fall of the regime’s, or the fact that his days are numbered after all these forecasts proved to be inaccurate. These countries do not hide their disappointment with the U.S. administration and President Barack Oabama.

Relevant sources say that European countries do not hide their discontent that their role is relatively marginalized in the Syrian issue, especially as this region is important for Europe because of its geographical proximity. These states, including France, have tried to adopt certain measures, such as the recognition of the Syrian National Coalition as a unique and legitimate representative of the Syrian people by appointing an ambassador to the opposition instead of the regime’s one in Paris. This measure should be generalized in Arab and Western countries. But that did not happen, although influential states have pushed in this direction.

These same sources believe that now all the attention and effort should be worn on the humanitarian aspect of the Syrian crisis to compensate failure to act on other tables.

Al Akhbar (Lebanese daily, close to the majority, January 18, 2013)

Nasser Charara

Last Saturday, the president of the Socialist Progressive Party (SPP) Walid Jumblatt, has received in his Moukhtara palace the Arab Ambassadors accredited in Beirut to discuss with them the developments in Lebanon and the region.

But the last meeting did not ended as desired by the SPP leader, who wanted to take this opportunity to knock at the door of Saudi, since its ambassador is one of the guests. However, this trick did not work, because the Saudi ambassador, Ali Awad el-Assiri, boycotted the meeting. But the big surprise came from the fact that the ambassador of Qatar, Saad Ali Hilal Mouhannadi either did not come. Jumblatt’s disappointment turned into despair.

An ambassador who was present said that Saudi Arabia made a mistake in pushing this boycott too far, especially that Jumblatt showed great patience in waiting that the kingdom reconsiders its position. According to well informed sources, Jumblatt expected in recent weeks to hear the ringing of his telephone to bring him a new invitation in Saudi Arabia. But this did not happen. So, he decided to accept an invitation to Moscow, received from the Russian deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov. According to the ambassador, it is in this context that Jumblatt decided to go to Moscow to restore its relationship with Russia, because he is sure that his attempts to patch things up with Riyadh will be unsuccessful for a long period. The diplomat added that during a telephone conversation with the former Syrian Vice-President Abdel Halim Khaddam, in the middle of last summer, the SPP leader had complained of the neglect with which he is treated by the Saudi Arabia. Khaddam asked him to be patient, saying that Prince Bandar bin Sultan had assured him that "the end of Assad was close." Jumblatt reportedly replied nervously: "When I hear you and I hear the Saudis, I feel that Assad will fall tomorrow morning. But when I evaluate the situation, I feel that we all be falling before him. "

Al Akhbar (January 16, 2013)

Lebanese Army has arrested a cadet in his third year at military school, after having discovered ties between him and a terrorist organization based in the Palestinian camp of Ain el Hilweh. According to informed sources, the cadet was recruited by a relative of the emir of the organization. The arrest was described as "preventive" because the relationship was still in its early stage between the suspect and the organization, who asked him not to undertake any hostile act. This is the second attempt of infiltration of the army by terrorist organizations discovered in a year. The military intelligence had arrested a military cadet who was linked with Abdullah Azzam Brigades, affiliated with Al-Qaeda. He was released after being imprisoned for months, because he had not committed any terrorist act, but he was expelled from the military.

Al Akhbar (January 17, 2013)

Radwan Mortada

Future Movement MP Okab Sakr announced this past December that the abductors of the Lebanese pilgrims in Azaz, Syria would release their hostages as part of a prisoner swap that would see the release of prisoners held in Lebanese and Syrian jails. One of the prisoners, whose release Sakr is trying to broker as part of this deal, is a Jordanian al-Qaeda operative. Here is his story.

Seven months ago, Lebanese security forces arrested Abdul-Malek A., a Jordanian national and “al-Qaeda envoy.” Based on intelligence provided by the US, Lebanon’s General Security seized Abdul-Malek at the Beirut International Airport as he attempted to depart the country.

The arrest led security forces to other operatives, including Shadi M., Lebanese, and Abdul-Aziz A., Qatari.

Investigations uncovered the details of Abdul-Malek’s tasks and activities in al-Qaeda. He had been detained in Mount Lebanon’s Roumieh Prison since May 2012.

At the time, political and popular pressure led to the release of Shadi M. Similar pressure from Qatar resulted in the deportation of Abdul-Aziz A. to his home country, where he remains in one of its prisons, according to the latest information.

The Jordan detainee was born in Iraq and goes by many names: Omar, Nour, “the wolf,” and “the pilot,” among others. He admitted during interrogations that he worked under the cover of free trade, such as cars and real estate.

Security sources indicate that Abdul-Malek arrived in Lebanon in April 2012 and spent four days at a hotel in Beirut where he met several Lebanese citizens to coordinate the purchase and subsequent smuggling of arms to al-Qaeda fighters in Syria.

The information shows that Abdul-Malek departed to Iran, returning five days later through Syria after being unable to enter into Turkey. So he came to Lebanon to be able to fly to Qatar.

His mission was to transport money and take care of al-Qaeda fighters’ needs,” the sources explained. He was arrested at the airport following a court order.

During interrogation, he confessed to be involved with collecting donations to al-Qaeda from individuals in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE, indicating that this happened through specialized units working online.

According to the detainee, these individuals do not not have direct lines of communication, but instead are linked to a point person in their respective countries who takes care of money transfers with help from others in Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, Saudi, Jordan, and Kuwait.

He said he joined al-Qaeda in 2008 and undertook training before fighting in Afghanistan. He admitted going to Iran to travel to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border for basic handgun and rifle training.

In mid-May 2011, he accompanied several members of al-Qaeda to Zabul province in Afghanistan. They remained there for ten days to conduct a military operation against US Army patrols.

From Zabul, Abdul-Malek moved to Camp Barabsha in Afghanistan to resume his training. There, he endured several injuries and lost the fingers on his right hand, prompting a radical shift in his al-Qaeda tasks.

He switched to logistical work, including “collecting money and transferring it to the organization’s members...and recruitment to al-Qaeda,” he explained, indicating he transferred funds to the organization using several countries of the Arabian peninsula as his bases.

He revealed that he transferred 50,000 Euros (€) through Iran in November and December 2011 and ⁤€11,000 in March 2012. This is in addition to €180,000, 200,000 Qatari Riyals, four pairs of binoculars (night and day vision), communication devices, arms, and ammunition delivered to operatives in Antakya, Turkey, to be transferred inside Syria.

Al Akhbar (January 15, 2013)

Bassam Alkantar

We don’t think he [Georges Abdallah] should be released, and we are continuing our consultations with the French government about it...We have serious concerns that he could return to the battlefield.” This according to a statement from Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the US Department of State, on Friday, 11 January 2013.

This was more than an enough of a hint for the socialist government in Paris to block the decision to release Abdallah, who, from today, 15 January 2013, is essentially a hostage at the Lannemezan Prison.

Yesterday, Abdallah was supposed to appear one last time before the French judge, to be read the terms of his conditional release, which requires him to be deported from France. But French Minister of Interior Manuel Valls refused to sign Abdallah’s deportation order.

One judicial source said that the Sentence Enforcement Chamber of Paris (TAP), which held a hearing on Monday to evaluate the 8th request for parole submitted by Abdallah, “has not yet made a decision pending the deportation order.”

On 21 November 2012, the TAP had approved Abdallah’s request for parole on the condition that he be expelled from France. On 10 January 2013, the Court of Appeals in Paris upheld the TAP’s ruling, and rejected the appeal submitted by the French Public Prosecution, settling the controversy regarding its final and unequivocal decision to release Abdallah.

The sudden French move triggered many questions. For instance, is it possible for the French interior minister to completely block the procedures for the Lebanese prisoner’s conditional release? And, will the French prosecution be able to appeal the parole ruling again, having lost the appeal battle?

A French legal source familiar with the case of Abdallah in Paris told Al-Akhbar that political considerations had trumped legal ones after the interior minister’s move. Usually, he affirmed, the authorities may refrain from deporting a foreign national if it suspects that the country of destination, whether it is the foreigner’s home country or a third country, may mistreat or torture him.

In this event, the authorities often respect the wishes of the foreigner to be deported, to remain under house arrest or in refugee facilities, after serving his or her sentence.

The source added, “In Georges Abdallah’s case, the opposite is true. The Lebanese government has expressed on several occasions its willingness to receive him.”

Concerning whether the prosecution can appeal the parole ruling again, the judicial source said that this was unlikely, but stressed that the interior minister’s insistence on not signing the deportation order practically meant that Abdallah’s release has been obstructed.

This is not the first time that legal proceedings have clashed with political calculations, which makes Abdallah’s case the “scandal of the age,” in the words of Yves Bonnet, the former head of French intelligence services (DST). Since 1999, Abdallah has met all the conditions that make him eligible for parole, something that prompted the French judicial authorities to revisit his case several times over the past years.

As it turns out, there are five parole requirements stipulated in the French Penal Code. The first condition is good conduct in prison, which Abdallah has met according to the testimony of the French court itself.

Second, there has to be someone providing him with assistance in case he is released, a requirement that is met as per the documents that have been provided by Abdallah’s family, at the request of the French authorities, since 2003.

Third, the parolee must be able to pursue a vocation, a condition already satisfied by Abdallah, who is part of the Lebanese Ministry of Education’s teaching cadre.

Fourth, the parolee must be in good mental health, which, according to the reports of Abdallah’s psychiatrist, has been fulfilled.

Finally, the parolee must not pose a threat to French society, a requirement that the judiciary has undertaken to fulfill by ensuring that Abdallah is deported by the French interior ministry to Lebanon, or any third country that agrees to host him.

It was this requirement that the French interior minister exploited on Monday, in reverse fashion, to block the Lebanese prisoner’s conditional release.

A History of Abdallah’s French Court Rulings

On 19 November 2003, the parole court in the French district of Pau agreed to release the Lebanese national. The move angered the French Public Prosecution, which rushed to appeal the decision at the request of the justice minister. It succeeded in having the ruling suspended by the court in Pau.

On 16 January 2004, the National Parole Court reexamined the case. However, the court came under pressure from the French justice minister, who in turn was under US-Israeli pressure. Abdallah was subsequently denied parole.

On 31 January 2006, the court refused to release Abdallah after prosecutors argued that France’s image would be undermined with the US and its allies should it release him.

The prosecutors further claimed that Abdallah’s deportation would not guarantee that he wouldn’t return to the same types of acts he carried out in the past and that the psychiatrist’s report was insufficient in this regard.

While he may be in good mental health, they argued, what guarantee was there that he would not return to “terrorism”? (As though Abdallah is a common criminal or a drug addict who is being treated to quit his habit.)

The prosecution gave another reason for opposing Abdallah’s release, namely that he had not paid compensations to the victims, estimated by the court to stand at 53,357 euros, bearing in mind that his family has pledged to pay all such compensations.

On 6 February 2007, Abdallah requested parole for the 7th time only to be rejected once again. Abdallah appealed the ruling, but a decision was postponed until April 2008. The surprise was that the judges, instead of pronouncing the appeal verdict, decided to refer Abdallah’s case from the parole court to a special committee.

On 17 June 2008, Abdallah’s case was referred to a “special committee” in accordance with the provisions of Dati’s Law. Abdallah was formally notified of this, and the committee was set to issue its ruling in September 2008. The ruling was postponed yet again to 9 January 2009 when the court rejected the parole request.

This is the winding road that the leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions has had to take in the French justice system. Yet Monday’s court session was one of its most sinister junctures.

So will Jacques Vergès, Abdallah’s lawyer, play the ace up his sleeve and demand a retrial? He most definitely will if Abdallah is not released come January 28.

Al Hayat (Pro-Saudi Lebanese Daily, January 18, 2013)

A Christian march-14 leader, which supports the project Orthodox, responded to criticisms expressed by its allies on the fact that the project may cause dislocation of the coalition. "The main causes are that we have met together is not the electoral law, which has always resulted in distributions of shares and the exclusion of certain personalities to other people, which often were not representative", said the Christian politicians. "Lebanon first, sovereignty, the position in respect of illegal weapons, a free and democratic Lebanon and love for life, are the causes which brought together the forces of March-14", he said.

The same source defended the position of the leaders of Kataeb Party and the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea and Amin Gemayel, in their support for the Orthodox project. "They cannot return to the 1960 Act because it does not provide a good representation of Christian and do not enjoy Christian consensus", he said who adds: "MM. Gemayel and Geagea informed their allies they could no longer accept the 1960 Act and that law must find a substitute. Michel Aoun has managed to convince his allies to support the Orthodox project, but the Kataeb and Lebanese Forces were unable to secure a parliamentary majority for the 50 districts project. Only the orthodox project enjoys a parliamentary majority. Should Gemayel and Geagea commit political suicide, or should they allow Hezbollah to grab the Christian votes? "

Fides (Vatican Missionary Agency, January 18, 2013)

Hassake, the capital of Mesopotamia (Eastern Syria), is a ghost town, isolated from the rest of the world. The population is suffering from the cold weather, there is no fuel, water is scarce, there is only one hour of electricity a day. Over 25 thousand Christians (Syrian Orthodoxs, Syrian Catholics, Chaldeans, Armenians) are crowded in the city, many of whom have sought refuge from the surrounding areas, have launched an alarm for survival through some of the messages sent to Fides Agency.

After the appeal issued two months ago by the three Bishops of the region, who "launched an SOS to avoid catastrophe" (see Fides 23/11/2012), "nothing has been done: no one cares for the exhausted population of Hassake, who urgently need humanitarian aid," the Bishops affirm. The Bishops, such as the Syrian Catholic Mgr. Jacques Behnan Hindo and the Syrian Orthodox Mgr. Matta Roham, are intensifying contacts with other Christian Syrian leaders and with humanitarian organizations, but the response they receive leaves no loopholes, "It is impossible to bring aid to Hassake because it is too dangerous and lacks minimal security conditions."

After the town of Tall Tamr, the region is infested with Islamist groups and terrorists that impose several checkpoints on the roads. These are the militants "Jubhat el Nosra," Salafist faction that even the United States has recently added to the black list of "terrorist groups".

They are added to common criminals who commit robbery, kidnapping, looting, even in the city. The population "is slowly dying, left to itself," stresses to Fides Fr. Ibrahim, a Christian priest resident in Hassake.

"The people are hungry and living in fear," he says. "Every day, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, there is a sort of curfew, because armed groups roam the streets. This is followed by kidnappings, sometimes with ransom demands, not always. In recent days, two brothers of the Bashr family and two young members of the Fram family were killed at point blank range on the street. Young Christians are threatened and terrified, 90% have fled the city. If young people leave, what will our churches be needed for? " He says sadly.

According to what Georgius tells Fides, a Christian university student whose family is in Hassake and has taken refuge in Lebanon, "the militia with black flags of the Jubhat el Nosra group have targeted all young people who were born between 1990 and 1992. They look for them, accuse them of being soldiers for the national service and kill them cold-bloodedly. They want to terrorize young people to prevent them from enlisting." The population of Hassaké, weary and tired, reports Georgius, "fears the final assault on the city that could cause the definitive exodus of Christians from Hassake."

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