Maaloula’s cathedral and churches empty of Christians as Syria’s latest front-line fight takes its toll
Its churches are empty, its monasteries deserted, many pitted and holed by the battles raging around them.
By Bill Neely, International Editor, ITV News, in Damascus and Maaloula
14 Sep 2013
Maaloula is a special place. It has been a safe haven for Christians for 2,000 years – until now. It was a place of refuge so secure in its rugged mountain isolation that a dialect of the language of Christ, Aramaic, is still spoken here. But not today.
Its Christian community of 2,000 has fled. In the tight alleyways and streets that wind up the Maaloula’s mountainside their language has been replaced by the Arabic of two bitter enemies: rebels from three Islamist groups and the soldiers of President Bashar al-Assad.
Some 70,000 tourists a year used to come here from all over the Middle East, Europe and America to marvel at the Christianity carved into its rock. But the “Welcome to Maaloula” sign as I drove in seemed almost laughable.
There was hardly time to notice the white statue of Christ the Redeemer on the hillside before we were fired on, bullets aimed at our van, blowing our tyre and holing the chassis. We screeched to a halt and scrambled clear.
To read the full article on the Telegraph website click here
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