Talk:Assault on Maaloula
Good work starting this page. I was thinking about it. I hear that Maaloula is the only Aramaic speaking town on Earth. Didn't notice any clear massacre reports yet. The SOHR has been covering it some, but I didn't even save the links. Anyway, that's a talk page started. --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:41, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
- Experience shows that it gets interesting when you have reporters with authoritative British accents on the ground, especially if they're blond Russian women, so when I saw that RT video I knew that alone would carry an article... ;o) A RIA Novosti piece from this afternoon and musings of SyrPer indicate that the Army might have withdrawn for the moment, to not cause unnecessary destruction to the amazing historical treasures, and the barbarians are in charge. --CE (talk) 00:07, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Continuing from front page intro, Further developments:
- International Business Times, December 6: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/528140/20131206/syria-nuns-kidnapped-hostage-swap-rebels-maaloula.htm
- A Syrian rebel group calling themselves "Free Qalamoun" has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 12 nuns in Maaloula, and demanded the release of 1,000 female prisoners of the Assad government, in exchange for their hostages. ... Rebel spokesman Mohannad Abu al-Fidaa said the nuns "will not be released until several demands have been implemented, most importantly, the release of 1,000 Syrian women held in regime prisons".
- Anti-government activists from the Syrian General Revolution Commission denied reports that a rebel group had demanded that the regime release hundreds of female detainees in exchange for the release of the women.
- This is troubling. Are there 1,000 women in prisons? Is this like asking for the release of the Easter Bunny, or else? A similar demand was made for the release of 105 of the 200+ Alawite hostages, women and children, taken in Latakia in August. Some women rebels held in sports stadium in Baniyas must be freed, or else unspecified. There's been no public word if those demands were ever met and the people released. --Caustic Logic (talk) 04:34, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
This report passes on rebel claims that the nuns were rescued, not kidnapped:
- ... opposition forces said that the nuns were rescued during the battle to conquer Maaloula, which was captured by rebel groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra. The opposition said that they decided to evacuate the nuns trapped inside the convent for their own safety and that they were moved to nearby rebel-held town of Yabrud.
- Mother superior of the Saidnaya convent, Febronia Nabhan, seemed to confirm the report, according to Middle East Monitor.
- Nabhan allegedly received a call from the nuns' Mother superior Pelagia Sayyaf, who told her they were all "fine and safe".
- According to their telephone conversation, "she and the 11 other nuns, accompanied by three young maids, were comfortably installed in a house in Yabrud and no one was bothering them," Nabhan said.
On December 7 it was reported there was a rebel video, aired by Al-Jazeera, in which the nuns say they are 13 in number, plus 3 maids, with no mention of orphans. Filmed by rebels in the local rebel capitol of Yabroud, they denied being held hostage. They claim they've been treated well in a nice villa, which may be; Lebanon's Daily Star says "they are reportedly staying in the home of a Christian family," but presumably one collaborating with the rebels. 
- AFP Dec. 7 http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g-0bosBZ1qty5JSvF9izChiXV1wg?docId=23753f27-1274-4625-aae8-13edff46f21a
- It was unclear who was filming the women, and where they were.
- "A group brought us here and protected us, and we're very, very happy with them," one of the nuns said.
- An unidentified man asked the nuns questions, with several taking turns to speak. It was unclear if they were being pressured to talk, and some of the women bowed their heads as the camera turned to them.
- Dec. 8, Saudi Arshaq al-Awsat reports An unnamed Lebanese rebel supporter claiming direct knowledge says no one knows just who abducted the women except it was Islamist extremists, the ones they aren't in touch with, and not any of the ones with FSA. "The source denied that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is behind the abduction, citing the “growing influence of the hardline rebels who oppose the FSA and have taken control over the FSA military bases in Bab Al-Hawa on the Turkish borders.”" It was a discredit to the revolution, not a part of it, he said, and implicitly again it's the West's fault for forsaking the revolution so the Islamists took the lead - with much Saudi help, Qatari, etc. Consider:
- Director-General of Lebanese General Security Forces Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has visited Qatar, one of the key sponsors of several Syrian rebels groups, to discuss ways to secure the release of the 12 nuns. --Caustic Logic (talk) 10:19, 9 December 2013 (UTC)
Abu Majid's Story
A later national Public Radio report of December 20 passed on a rebel leader's claim that Nuns Were Led To Safety, Not Seized, In Syria
- There are differing versions of what happened to the Greek Orthodox nuns of Maaloula, who left their convent north of Damascus earlier this month. Some say the nuns are being held hostage by Islamic radicals. Others say they were under missile assault by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and were rescued by rebel fighters.
- NPR now has a firsthand account from one man who was in Maaloula — and says he helped with the nuns' passage. 
This is "Abu Majid," age 25, a former law student who "now leads Ahrar al Asserian, or Free Asserians, a local Muslim rebel group." NPR reports that he "he negotiated the nuns' passage ... convinced they would be killed if they stayed."
- "He decided to kill you and blame us," he recalls pleading with the sisters, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad, after a surface-to-surface missile shattered the convent's thick wooden door on Dec. 3. His talks with the nuns over their safety began earlier in the day as five rebel groups — local insurgents, including an al-Qaida-linked battalion — fought Syrian government forces for control ... The nuns, the only civilians left in town, were reluctant to leave the convent ... But after a missile hit at dusk, Abu Majid says, "it was crazy," and the nuns agreed to go.
- "Assad always says he protects the minorities, but he shells them," says Abu Majid during an interview in Lebanon. The thin-faced young man, with dark hollowed eyes, agreed to talk about the nuns of Mar Tekla and his role in their departure from Maaloula on a rare visit across the border in a short break from the battlefield. 
NPR scrounged up Syrian official denial and also "church confirmation" to bolster this questionable tale:
- Some of the details of Abu Majid's account were confirmed in a call to the office of the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari in Damascus. "As far as we know," he says, "the sisters were taken to a safer place," though he adds that the situation is "still confusing."
Upon the nuns' release there was SOHR Facebook post with interesting comments. One cites a video from SAMA TV claimed to say "the nuns are traitors." Rather, I presume, it shows the falseness of their pro-rebel words, uttered under rebel captivity. Some comments:
- André André BTW Djordje, are you now willing to admit that in the nun affair, the rebels (including al-Nusra) held the high ground in coercing the regime to release over 150 women political prisoners ? . Noting that the nuns said, after their release, that they were well treated, most of the time in the care of a pro-Assad supporter ?
- Yazan Gh: He'll say that Alnusra forced them to say that,Forget it Andre
- Djordje Djukic: the rebels (including al-Nusra) held the high ground in coercing the regime to release over 150 women political prisoners Excuse me Andre, did you just admit the nuns were held against their will until the Nusra demands were met? Weren't they, according to you, there of their own free will and for their own protection and nothing more? Looool.
- Adam Larson: The rebels took the nuns to protect them from being killed by the rebels if they didn't go. I cite the threat, as Rebel blasted their way into town, paraphrased: "the government means to blast you right now and blame us." Duh. Why didn't they stay the hell away then so they couldn't be blamed? Cause unless you go there you can't kidnap people, to secure ransom for other people and get cheers of 'way to go al-Qaeda!' out of the deal. The frickin morons who can believe that stupid story... --Caustic Logic (talk) 23:37, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
The video cited above might be worth translating, but that also might not be necessary. I received this forwarded e-mail from Media Werkgroep Syria on criticism of the nuns, and the reasons for it. It's a response to an article at Breaking News.sy: Sidney (sic} refuses to recieve Maaloula nuns for thanking al-Nusra and Qatar (couldn't they just read it as implicating them in Stockholm code and call it good?) The first part affirms something (I guess the story) and says this is "the reaction of the ordinary people of the Christian ancient city of Sed Naya (not Sydney hehe)."
- Unfortunately the nuns not only thanked Nusra Front but they praised them repeatedly in the videos spread on the internet and it didn't seem they had to do it.. even they asked the Nusra guard before the extremely warm goodbye: "please send our warm regard to Abu x!" Wow! It seems they had a very good time!
Well, I don't doubt they were very well treated, but it's naive to think they treated them well because they are good, but simply because it's all about a media gain and a promotion for them in the minds of western and Arabo-Islamic world. But it seems that it worked very well with the nuns who thought they are very special!
- Further, Syrians are aware (even before the kidnapping accident) the negative and "suspicious" role of the very same nuns, namely the head/president of the monastery of Mar Taqla "La mere Pilagia Sayaf" who bear responsibility of the whole tragedy of Maloula as it was SHE who rejected any kind of defense of Maloula whether of Syrian army or National Defense claiming that such military existence will provoke the Islamists to attack it (now it's been obvious they had been provoked by the peaceful Maloula!)
- In contrast, Sed Naya took the necessary measures (National Defense in cooperation with Syrian army) and is still safe and strong!
- It remains to say that notre mere Pilagia is Lebanese and common people here say she is affiliated to the Zionist Lebanese agent Samir Geagea (this last info might be just a rumor... who knows)
- All these info above should be known to the public.
- Instead of suspecting evil Lebanese Zionist connections I would suspect a bunch of elderly nuns who have lived most of their quiet life in that monastery and had enough to do struggling with displacement issues to willingly accept whatever those nice and polite young Muslim men told them about the reasons. Those who want to deny the kidnapping based on those statements are just being silly (and desperate). --CE (talk) 16:31, 14 March 2014 (UTC)
This needs settled out. "Dozens" of orphaned children were reportedly taken too, but no confirmation. Unlike the nuns, these were not necessarily Christians the rebel sponsors would care about. All kinds of Syrian people - Christians, Alawi, Shia, Druze, Kurd, secular/gov't loyalist Sunni, anyone else in the crossfire - might have parents killed and need a place to be taken care of. The best case scenario is someone who didn't know of their earlier evacuation noticed them missing too and passed on worries that will be unfounded.--Caustic Logic (talk) 04:34, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Pope Francis and all levels in the Catholic Church and related communities have weighed in on the side of the nuns' safety. A council of Maronite bishops called on the "world community" to get the nuns released. Outside the obvious church venues, the reaction from that community and its various members in their world capitols is interesting. Two so far I've found: --Caustic Logic (talk) 04:34, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Foreign ministry spokeswoman, Marzyeh Afkham who looks a lot like the nuns, says: “Certainly this act was taken with the aim of fueling sedition in Syria and discord among followers of divine religions who have had peaceful coexistence for centuries...”
Western powers have been slower to say anything, maybe hoping the rebels get their demands met before they urge anything. They might be urging them to up the demands and get fighters released too. It's presumably unrelated that British Foreign secretary William Hague, speaking in Kuwait, used to occasion to again call for president Assad's resignation.  Now, if the orphans had been in fake incubators in a P.R. company's imagination, rather than a real monastery in Syria... (if they were taken) --Caustic Logic (talk) 04:34, 8 December 2013 (UTC)
Petri, the link to the video you just added is dead. I find three versions of it on the tube. Was the statement you added a comment? The first version contains the comment "The nuns here are under duress and told to lie about their treatment by al nusra terrorists" --CE (talk) 14:18, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
- Fixed! The comment is from the YouTube file description (slightly edited to fix bad translation). -- Petri Krohn (talk) 15:19, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
- Al-Nusra Out of Syria's Ancient Sadad Town – FNA, Oct 27, 2013
- Syrian Army regained control of the ancient town of Sadad after days of intensive fighting with militants from al-Nusra terrorist group.
- Around two thousand militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front stormed and occupied the ancient town of Sadad, 60 kilometers (37 mi) South of Homs, nearly a month ago and sieged its fifteen thousand residents to use them as human shields against the Syrian army, Al-Alam reported.
- The militant groups who were driven out of Sadad were from the same groups that raided Syria's ancient Christian town of Maalula in Northeast of Damascus a couple of months ago.
- Terrorists had taken Sadad to turn it into their stronghold for the al-Qalamoun war which both sides are getting ready for, an army member said.
Descendants of the Prophet Brigades
- Ahfad al-Rasul Qalamoun Liberation front members showing the devastation in Maloula.