Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Inform - Connect - Empower

Islamist rebels fight army for Christian town in Syria

Source: Reuters - Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:23 GMT
Author: Reuters
hum-war
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

BEIRUT, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Islamist rebels battled Syrian government forces on Tuesday to retain control of a historic Christian town which the insurgents has stormed a day earlier, residents said.

"There is a huge on-off battle here now, the army even used fighter jets," said one female resident of Sadad, a town that was mentioned in the Bible.

The town is located amid several villages that support the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

It also lies next to several arms depots and opposition activists said the raid by the al Qaeda linked-rebels was for military reasons, not religiously motivated.

The clashes could nevertheless raise anxieties among the Christian minority, who have generally tried to stay on the sidelines of sectarian conflict pitting majority Sunni Muslims against the Alawite minority and which has overshadowed the revolt against four decades of Assad family rule of Syria.

"After rebels stormed the town yesterday, they entered the main square and spoke to us on loudspeakers, telling us to stay inside. They killed anyone found in the streets," said a resident named Elias, speaking by phone. "They didn't come inside people's homes though."

Residents estimated that nine people were killed then.

They also said no government soldiers or paramilitary forces other than police had been in Sadad. Opposition activists said the town was used to launch rockets into nearby rebel-held areas.

Sources on both sides said another aim of the rebel assault was to break into Sadad's hospital to seize medical supplies.

One resident said that by Tuesday morning the rebels seemed to have disappeared.

"We assumed it was because the army was on its way. It turned out they were in hiding in the orchards and the fields and they ambushed the army when it came," one woman said, declining to give her name.

Sadad is strategicly located between the central city of Homs, 60 km (37 miles) away, and the capital Damascus, 100 km (62 miles) away.

Reuters cannot always confirm reports inside Syria due to government and security restrictions.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
Most Popular
TOPICAL CONTENT
Topical content
LATEST SLIDESHOW

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
FEATURED JOBS
Featured jobs