Syria: The Christian village of Sadad lies between the fronts – Federal Government should support negotiations

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On Friday, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Göttingen sent an appeal to the German Federal Government to advocate for a cease-fire agreement for the Syrian village of Sadad, which is mainly inhabited by Christians. “Please try to help rescue the trapped civilians by contacting the Russian government in Moscow – which provides weapons for the regime in Damascus – as well as the governments of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who support the Islamists”, says the letter the human rights organization sent to Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. “A cease-fire agreement must be negotiated with both warring parties, so that the 15,000 Christians can leave the village. In Sadad, there is no electricity. Bread, milk and other food and drinking water have become scarce. “The brutality of the regime and the armed opposition, which accepts the deaths of so many innocent people, cannot be accepted, especially since the international community is also planning to organize “Geneva 2”, a peace conference on Syria.

According to Arabic media reports, fighters from the al-Nusra front and the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) had attacked the village on October 21, 2013. The two rebel groups – who are said to be close to the international terrorist network al-Qaeda – managed to take over control of parts of the village. The troops of the regime in Damascus are trying to drive off the Islamists at gunpoint. The serious fighting has been going on since Monday. At least nine civilians were killed and dozens were injured. By loudspeaker announcements, the Islamists had told the frightened residents to stay in their houses.

Sadad is located 60 kilometers to the south of the central Syrian city of Homs and about 100 kilometers to the northeast of the capital, Damascus. Sadad is an old village. It was probably mentioned in the in the Old Testament as Zedad, a place in the north east of the biblical land of Canaan. As the area is isolated at the border of the Syrian desert, the population of Sadad had remained Syrian-Orthodox even after the Islamic conquest in the 7th Century. The Christians in Sadad still speak Aramaic, the language Jesus is supposed to have spoken.

According to estimates, about 450,000 of the 1.5 million Christians of Syria have already have left the country. Most have fled to the neighboring Arabic country Lebanon. At least one million people from Syria have sought refuge there already. The STP documented the human rights violations committed against the Christians in Syria. The documentation can be requested by e-mail.

The STP’s Middle East consultant, Kamal Sido, is available for further questions: +49 (0)173 – 67 33 980 (nahost@gfbv.de)