As the Syrian civil war drags on, the rebels no longer simply want to topple a tyrannical regime. Now they want to replace the government with an Islamic-centered state, with Christians now joining President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Members of the religiously neutral Free Syrian Army, which started waging the conflict two years ago, are being supplemented by al-Qaida-affiliated jihadists who seem intent on spreading terror among Syria’s Christian community, according to Catholic Online.
Although Christians have, for the most part, preferred to remain above the fray and declare their neutrality, a Syrian Christian interviewed by France24 and identified only as “John,” said he saw the handwriting on the wall and joined Assad’s forces early on.
“I tried to encourage the men from my village and nearby villages to join up as well. But they weren’t very receptive, as they didn’t feel concerned by what was going on,” John told France24, according to Catholic Online. “All the while, an increasingly large number of Lebanese and Palestinian jihadists were crossing the border to come support the rebels.”
The jihadists brought trouble for not just the Christians, but for Syria’s entire civilian population.
“From week to week, the number of kidnappings and attacks against civilians was increasing rapidly,” John said. “All the inhabitants of the region, whether Christian or Muslim, could clearly see that criminals were taking advantage of the reigning chaos to loot and kidnap innocent people. This ended up pushing many of our young men to join the ranks of the National Defense Committees.”
Catholic Online reported:
There is a growing sense that the conflict cannot be resolved by fighting so the incentive to negotiate is strong. However, al Qaida-backed fighters have little desire to negotiate and they often undermine ceasefires. The rebel forces are receiving arms and supplies, especially the jihadists with their own, independent supply networks.
With no end to the conflict in sight, more Christians are taking Assad’s side in an effort to stem the slowly rising tide of jihadists arrayed against them.
In September, Syria’s rebel forces began receiving weapons paid for by the CIA, according to CNN.