Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Christians in the Bekaa increasingly threatened by Islamists 

In Al-Monitor a report appeared from the mainly Greek Catholic towns of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa on the Lebanese-Syrian border. In the Bekaa valley, where tensions between Hizballah and Syrian Islamist rebels are running high, Christians towns feel increasingly threatened by Sunni Islamists from Syria as well:

“Civilians are forming patrols to protect the borders in places like al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek,” said a source in the Defense Ministry that chose to remain anonymous, as he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. “What they are doing is in coordination with the local municipality and the governor of the Bekaa, so it’s half-legal, let’s say.”
Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa are two of Lebanon’s largest Christian villages, inhabited predominately by Greek Catholics and located on the northeast border with Syria. To date, locals say Ras Baalbek has yet to experience any incidents involving armed groups. The Lebanese army is stationed at the village entrance and has conducted searches of the homes of Syrians who have recently taken up residence there. Despite the relative security, locals are still concerned with developments just across the border.

This week, the head of al-Qaa municipality, Miled Rizk, claimed he received a death threat in a text message from a man purporting to be an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) emir named Abou Hasan al-Mhaje. The emir said that rockets would rain down on al-Qaa if anyone from the village stood against his men.Locals also say that some armed militants use the nightly fog to try to slip through the village. At the moment, residents say the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra is operating a kilometer away in the mountain range bordering al-Qaa.
"Christian villages on Lebanon-Syria border beef up security" by Justin Salihi

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