Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syria. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Scores of Muslims Turn to Christ After ISIS Ravages Syrian Town - REUTERS CHARISMA NEWS


Scores of Muslims Turn to Christ After ISIS Ravages Syrian Town

A community of Syrians who converted to Christianity from Islam is growing in Kobani, a town besieged by Islamic State for months, and where the tide turned against the militants four years ago.
The converts say the experience of war and the onslaught of a group claiming to fight for Islam pushed them towards their new faith. After a number of families converted, the Syrian-Turkish border town's first evangelical church opened last year.
Islamic State militants were beaten back by U.S. air strikes and Kurdish fighters at Kobani in early 2015, in a reversal of fortune after taking over swaths of Iraq and Syria. After years of fighting, U.S.-backed forces fully ended the group's control over populated territory last month.
Though Islamic State's ultra-radical interpretation of Sunni Islam has been repudiated by the Islamic mainstream, the legacy of its violence has affected perceptions of faith.
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Many in the mostly Kurdish areas of northern Syria, whose urban centers are often secular, say agnosticism has strengthened and in the case of Kobani, Christianity.
Christianity is one of the region's minority faiths that was persecuted by Islamic State.
Critics view the new converts with suspicion, accusing them of seeking personal gain such as financial help from Christian organizations working in the region, jobs and enhanced prospects of emigration to European countries.
The newly-converted Christians of Kobani deny those accusations. They say their conversion was a matter of faith.
"After the war with Islamic State people were looking for the right path, and distancing themselves from Islam," said Omar Firas, the founder of Kobani's evangelical church. "People were scared and felt lost."
Firas works for a Christian aid group at a nearby camp for displaced people that helped set up the church.
He said around 20 families, or around 80 to 100 people, in Kobani now worship there. They have not changed their names.
"We meet on Tuesdays and hold a service on Fridays. It is open to anyone who wants to join," he said.
The church's current pastor, Zani Bakr, 34, arrived last year from Afrin, a town in northern Syria. He converted in 2007.
"This was painted by IS as a religious conflict, using religious slogans. Because of this a lot of Kurds lost trust in religion generally, not just Islam," he said.
Many became atheist or agnostic. "But many others became Christian. Scores here and more in Afrin."
Missionaries and Critics
One man, who lost an arm in an explosion in Kobani and fled to Turkey for medical treatment, said he met Kurdish and Turkish converts there and eventually decided to join them.
"They seemed happy and all talked about love. That's when I decided to follow Jesus's teachings," Maxim Ahmed, 22, said, adding that several friends and family were now interested in coming to the new church.
Some in Kobani reject the growing Christian presence. They say Western Christian aid groups and missionaries have exploited the chaos and trauma of war to convert people and that local newcomers to the religion see an opportunity for personal gain.
"Many people think that they are somehow benefitting from this, maybe for material gain or because of the perception that Christians who seek asylum abroad get preferential treatment," said Salih Naasan, a real estate worker and former Arabic teacher.
Thousands of Christians have fled the region over decades of sectarian strife. From Syria they have often headed for Lebanon and European countries.
U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017 banned entry for all Syrian refugees indefinitely and imposed a 90-day ban on travel from several other predominantly Muslim countries.
"It might be a reaction to Daesh (Islamic State) but I don't see the positives. It just adds another religious and sectarian dimension which in a community like this will lead to tension," said Naasan, a practicing Muslim.
Naasan like the vast majority of Muslims rejects Islamic State's narrow and brutal interpretation of Islam. The group enslaved and killed thousands of people from all faiths, reserving particular brutality for minorities such as the Yazidis of northern Iraq.
Most Christians preferred not to give their names or be interviewed, saying they fear reaction from conservative sectors of society.
The population of Kobani and its surroundings has neared its original 200,000 after people returned, although only 40,000 live in the town itself, much of which lies in ruins. 
© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Watch: IDF Exposes Hezbollah Terror Cell David Lazarus ISRAEL TODAY

Watch: IDF Exposes Hezbollah Terror Cell

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 |  David Lazarus  ISRAEL TODAY
The Israel Defense Forces reported today that it has uncovered a Hezbollah terror cell led by a veteran Lebanese terrorist wanted by the US. The combative terrorists were found dug in on the Golan Heights in a small Syrian village just across the border with Israel, from where they were collecting intelligence against Israeli targets.
The IDF says the cell is being run by Lebanese terrorist Ali Musa Daqduq, who is wanted by the US for killing 5 servicemen in Iraq. Daqduq, a senior Hezbollah leader, was captured by US troops in Basra, Iraq in 2007. Iraqi courts later found him not guilty and released him from prison despite US and Israeli concerns that Daqduq was a dangerous militant.
Today’s IDF exposure of the Daqduq-led terrorist cell on social media marks a dramatic change in the way Israel is trying to deal with the growing threats on its northern border. Israel typically refrains from commenting on its military activities against Iran in Syria, preferring instead to act quietly behind the scenes. With cautious ambiguity, the IDF neither confirms nor denies cross-border strikes. Broadcasting the Hezbollah terror cell on social media for all the world to see is clearly meant to serve as a way of stating Israel’s case before an unconcerned world of the real dangers brewing on our borders. The public exposure of the cell is also a clear warning to Syria and other Iranian proxies that Israel will not tolerate Tehran’s efforts to establish a permanent military presence in the Syrian Golan, and that the next time there will be dire consequences.
The IDF has vowed to prevent the Daqduq-led terror group from operating against Israel from Syrian soil. Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria to prevent attempts to smuggle weapons to the Hezbollah terror groups and keep Iranian-backed forces from digging themselves in near the border.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Syria Threatens to Bomb Ben Gurion Airport - Israel Today

Syria Threatens to Bomb Ben Gurion Airport

Wednesday, January 23, 2019 |  Israel Today Staff
Syria's ambassador to the UN on Tuesday told the world body that his nation (presumably with the help of its Iranian allies) would attack Ben Gurion International Airport if Israel didn't stop bombing targets in the war-torn country.
"Syria will practice its legitimate right of self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv airport," Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari warned members of the UN Security Council, insisting that they "stop the Israeli repeated aggressions on the Syrian Arab republic territories."
Earlier this week, Israel carried out a series of airstrikes against Iranian military targets near Damascus. Recently-retired IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot acknowledged earlier this month that over the past several years, Israel had dropped thousands of bombs on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria.
The Israeli strikes have been largely carried out with tacit Russian approval and a clear green light from the Trump Administration.
It is unlikely that Syria itself has the ability to make good on its threat, but Iran and Hezbollah do. And while both certainly know that an attack on Ben Gurion Airport would mark a major escalation and elicit a crushing Israeli response, some fear they might be crazy enough to disregard the consequences.
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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog - What to watch in 2019: Russia building dangerous military alliance with Iran, Turkey, Libya and other enemies of Israel as U.S. withdraws from Syria.


New post on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

What to watch in 2019: Russia building dangerous military alliance with Iran, Turkey, Libya and other enemies of Israel as U.S. withdraws from Syria.

by joelcrosenberg
(Jerusalem, Israel) -- As 2019 begins, I will be writing a series of columns on leaders, countries and global trend lines to keep a close eye upon.
Chief among them: Russian President Vladmir Putin's diplomatic and military activity in recent months. Putin is steadily building strategic alliances with Israel's worst enemies, from the leaders of Iran who long to create a nuclear-armed Persian empire to President Recep Erdogan of Turkey who sees himself as a modern day sultan longing to create a new Ottoman empire.
  • On November 24, 2017, Putin, Iranian President Rouhani and Erdogan held a summit together in Sochi, Russia.
  • On April 4, 2018, the three met for a summit in Ankara, Turkey.
  • On September 7, 2018, the three met for a summit in Tehran, Iran.
  • On December 28, 2018, it was reported that the Russian, Iranian and Turkish leaders would hold their next summit in Moscow in early 2019.
This would be cause for concern enough if the U.S. superpower was playing a robust and proactive role in the Epicenter. But it is all the more concerning with President Trump's recent decision to remove all U.S. forces from Syria in recent months and his statement yesterday that Iran "can do what they want there (in Syria), frankly,”
It's still more concerning when you look at the other countries in the Middle East and North Africa that the Kremlin is selling arms to and building alliances with.
I will provide more analysis on this soon. For now, take a look at these recent headlines and you'll get a sense of what Putin is up to.
For some, this may sound like a political thriller of mine -- The Ezekiel Option or The Kremlin Conspiracy. But what makes it chilling is that these headlines are all too real. Stay tuned.

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joelcrosenberg | January 3, 2019 at 5:06 am | Categories: Epicenter | URL: