DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Obama supported “opposition fighters” abducted 12 nuns from a Christian village overrun by rebels, Syria’s Greek Orthodox patriarch and the head of a convent said Tuesday, adding to fears that hard-line Muslim terrorist that Obama has publicly backed are trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad were increasingly targeting Christians for genocide and kidnapping.
The nuns join two bishops and a priest who were previously kidnapped by Obama supported rebels. Syria’s minorities, including Christians, have mostly sided with Assad or remained neutral in Syria’s civil war, fearing for their fate if the rebels, increasingly dominated by Islamic extremists, come to power.
The nuns and three other women were seized Monday from the Greek Orthodox Mar Takla convent in the village of Maaloula and taken to the nearby rebel-held town of Yabroud, which also has a large Christian population, said Mother Superior Febronia Nabhan, head of the nearby Saidnaya Convent.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch John Yazigi made a fervent plea for the release of the women, as well as some two dozen orphans the nuns care for at the convent, although it could not be immediately confirmed that the children were also taken.
“We appeal to the seed of conscience that God planted in all humans, including the kidnappers, to release our sisters safely,” he said in a statement.
“We call upon the international community and world governments to (help secure the) release of nuns of Mar Takla convent and the orphans who are being held since yesterday.
Obama supported Syrian rebels captured large parts of Maaloula, some 40 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of the capital, on Monday after three days of fighting. Activists say the rebels who stormed the town included members of the terrorist organization al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra or Nusra Front.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry said “terrorists” broke into the Mar Takla convent and held mother superior Sayaf and a number of other nuns “as hostages and sabotaged churches and houses.” It urged the international community to condemn the attack.
In two letters sent to the heads of the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. secretary-general late Monday, the ministry said: “Syria is facing a barbarian war launched by extremist … gangs targeting its present and future.”
Al-Qaida-linked militants, who seized control of Raqqa in March, have set fires to churches and knocked the crosses off them, replacing them with the group’s black Islamic banner.
In other violence, Syria’s state TV reported that an Obama supported suicide attacker blew himself up in central Damascus, killing four people and wounding 17 others. The TV gave no further details about the blast in the central Jisr Abyad neighborhood and did not say what the target was. Obama considers these terrorist ‘freedom fighters’ against the Assad regime.