Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 18 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Maria Anna Blondin

Rosaries and rifles: Christians battling ISIS in Syria

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 06/29/17

From AFP:

An ivory-coloured rosary swings from the rear-view mirror of Abboud Seryan’s pickup truck as he speeds through Syria’s Raqa, inspecting the positions of fellow Christian fighters taking on the Islamic State group. Lively music blasts through the car speakers while the thin 23-year-old, wearing a military-style cap and a revolver tucked into his waist, waves to comrades in the western district of Al-Romaniya. IS was ousted from the neighbourhood earlier this month as part of the US-backed offensive to defeat the jihadists in their northern Syrian bastion. The ground assault is being carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a majority Kurdish and Arab alliance, but dozens of Christians from the Syriac sect have also joined the fight. “We’re participating in the liberation of Raqa in the name of all Syrians. There’s no difference between Syriacs, Kurds, or Arabs. We’re all brothers,” Seryan says. The jihadists “blew up Raqa’s churches and forced Christians to convert to Islam. This is also why we’re participating in this battle.” Thousands of Syriac Christians once lived in Raqa alongside Armenians, Kurds and the city’s mainly Sunni Arab population, but many fled when ISIS overran the city in 2014. On June 29 of that year, ISIS declared the establishment of a self-styled “Islamic caliphate” straddling areas under its control in Syria and neighbouring Iraq. Christians could remain in Raqa if they paid a special tax called the jizya or converted to Islam — but many of them chose to flee. As the fightback against IS intensified the Syriac Military Council (SMC) — formed in 2013 to defend the community during Syria’s civil war — joined with the SDF. After a months-long operation to encircle Raqa, the SDF burst into the city on June 6 and are chipping away at jihadist-held districts, with help from heavy US-led coalition air strikes. Now the SMC’s fighters are battling jihadists on the frontline in Raqa, some proudly wearing their religion on their sleeves — literally. Many fighters have tattoos of rosaries inked around their wrists and the word “JESUS” printed down their forearms.

Read it all.

Photo: Wikipedia

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
2
LOREN SCHAUERS
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
3
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
4
MASS
Philip Kosloski
5 Essential things used at Mass and their symbolism
5
COUPLE
Cerith Gardiner
7 Joys to be had from a lengthy marriage
6
PRAY
Philip Kosloski
Catholic prayers for strength
7
HOLY SEPULCHRE CROSSES
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
See More