Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists capture historic Christian town in Syria
Anyone want to guess when the purge will begin?
"We cleansed Maaloula from all the Assad dogs and all his thugs," a rebel commander shouts at the camera in a video posted online over the weekend.
As the 18-month-long Syrian conflict festers, the government and the opposition welcome and need Christian support.
But some Christians fear radical Islamists have been swelling rebel ranks.
They also fear the same fate as a number of Christians during the war in Iraq, where militants targeted them and spurred many to leave the country.
Christians make up roughly 10% of the population. Syria is ruled by a government dominated by Alawites, whose faith is an offshoot of Shiism. The regime is opposed by an opposition with a large Sunni presence.
Aid agencies say Syria's 2 million Christians are often targeted for suspected sympathies to President Bashar al-Assad's regime. Two top bishops have been kidnapped; a well-known priest is missing.
Antoinette Nassrallah, the Christian owner of a cafe in Maaloula, told CNN last year she had seen government TV images depicting radical Muslim attacks on Christians. She said she has heard about such violence in Aleppo.
"For now in our area here it's fine," she said last year. "But what I heard, in Aleppo, they are killing, destroying many of churches -- very, very old churches."
Many of Syria's Christians have fled to Lebanon where they shelter in monasteries.
On Saturday, they joined in prayers for peace promoted by Pope Francis in Rome.
Last year, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on leaders of al-Nusra while the State Department blacklisted it as a foreign terror organization linked to al Qaeda in Iraq.
Al-Nusra Front has emerged as one of the most effective groups in the Syrian resistance, drawing on foreign fighters with combat experience in Iraq and elsewhere.
Christians are torn between hating Assad's Alawite regime and seeking its protection from radical Sunnis who want to destroy their churches, kill their priests, and imprison their parishoners. These are the "rebels" that would benefit the most from a strike on Assad.
It appears the administration is pulling back from their ridiuclous contention that most of the Syrian opposition are secular democrats. It never passed the laugh test and only served to make members of Congress more suspicious o the administration's policy. The longer the conflict goes on, the more radical Sunni elements gain power and influence.
The idea that we want to assist this process - even indirectly - is madness.