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Middle Eastern Christians Fear Spread of ISIS Violence
06/28/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that four suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Christian town of Qaa early Monday morning along the Syrian-Lebanese border. At least five people are reported dead with more than a dozen injured, all civilians. This news comes as the Syrian civil war continues to spill across the borders of Lebanon, leaving destruction and death in its wake for all communities, including Christians.
A local told Al Jazeera that another villager became suspicious of a passing group of men whom he confronted around 4:00 a.m. Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim reported that, “there was a fight and one of the men detonated a bomb, there was a series of explosions afterwards.”
Hezbollah in Lebanon has formally aligned itself with the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war, making it an automatic enemy to Islamic militant groups operating out of Syria. While nobody has yet claimed the attack, Hezbollah has accused the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). If this is in fact true, it will be the first confirmed ISIS attack in Lebanon that targeted a Christian community.
Al Jazeera’s Ghoneim continued, “Previously ISIL has focused on Hezbollah targets and the Lebanese military, so the big question to be asked right now – if ISIL is involved – is whether this marks a new approach; will ISIL be targeting more than just Hezbollah and the Lebanese military inside Lebanon?”
ISIS continues to be a major threat to the security of the Middle East in Syria, Iraq, and surrounding countries. Just yesterday, ISIS claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack that killed seven Jordanian soldiers on the Syrian border. For many Christian communities in the Middle East, the threat of the spread of ISIS-instigated and inspired violence is real and a major concern. For the Christian communities not directly affected by ISIS already, there is hope that the terrorist organization will remain contained in Iraq and Syria.
William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The attack in Qaa is particularly concerning due to its potential as the beginning of Christians being targeted by ISIS outside of Iraq and Syria. ISIS attacks on Christians outside of Iraq and Syria are not new, examples of this can be seen in Libya and Yemen, but if this were to become a trend, many more Christian communities in the Middle East could be affected by ISIS-instigated or inspired violence. With the Christian communities in Iraq and Syria already displaced and decimated by ISIS, could the group’s spread to other countries in the Middle East mean that other Christian communities in the Middle East are also unsafe? More must be done to contain and defeat ISIS and protect the religious minority communities they threaten. If this is not done, we could bear witness to the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East.”
For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please visit International Christian Concern at www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C.-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.
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