“You don’t know when and you don’t know where they hit,” says Amir, a 55-year-old Christian merchant. “Life here is often too difficult.”
The mortars have repeatedly hit in his mainly Christian district of Damascus, al-Qassaa, reportedly killing at least 32 people and injuring dozens of others the past two weeks.
Rebel shelling into the capital has increasingly hit several majority-Christian districts, particularly al-Qassaa.
The shelling and recent rebel assaults on predominantly Christian towns have fueled fears among Syria’s religious minorities about the growing role of Islamic extremists and foreign fighters among the rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad’s rule.
Christians believe they are being targeted — in part because of the anti-Christian sentiment among extremists and in part as punishment for what is seen as their support for Assad.
Youssef Naame and his wife Norma, an elderly Christian couple from Maaloula, described how bearded extremist Islamists stormed the northeastern village early last month chanting “God is Great!”
“The jihadis shouted: Convert to Islam, or you will be crucified like Jesus,” Youssef said with a shaky voice in his daughter’s al-Qassaa apartment.Continue reading