Syrian Christian's Deadly Battle With Islamist Persecution

As Syria's civil war rages, Christians, who make up one-tenth of the population, are being driven out. But in the Northeast, hand-in-hand with the Kurds, one group are beating back the Islamists' advance.


"They said they'd chop our heads off if we stayed. They said we were supporting the regime and they burnt one of my cousins." Mohammed Jelloud, a local Arab man, says of the oppression of rebel groups with ties to Al Qaeda. But now the Kurds have taken this region, which is split between Christians, Muslims and Kurds. For the Christians, the most vulnerable group, it is a godsend. Elsewhere in the country an estimated 450,000 have been displaced. "The extremists said the Christians and the Kurds were infidels and had to be killed!" Mahjoub, an elderly Christian, explains as he reveals the devastation wrought on an Orthodox church. This fanaticism is why so many Christians oppose the revolution, fearing it is controlled by radical and foreign interests. Now under Kurdish leadership, a fragile but tolerant haven has opened up here. Fadi, a young Christian, has thrown his lot in with the Kurdish police, because they offer a freedom that no one else can. "I have come to work with them because they are working to secure my lifestyle. I just want to have freedom."

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