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NOW

Islamic State not attacking
Hama Christians, activists says

BEIRUT – Media reports stating that Islamic State jihadists have attacked the central Syrian town of Muhradah to kill the Christian population are untrue, an activist told NOW on Friday.

 

“There is no IS presence in the town,” the media activist told NOW in reference to an An-Nahar report on Wednesday that Islamist militants have attacked Muhradah in order to kill the town’s Christian residents.

 

The Lebanese daily had purported that residents of Muhradah —located about 23 kilometers northwest of Hama—as well as Al-Suqaylabiyah—a Greek Orthodox town in the Hama province—had mobilized “after reports from the Hama countryside that Islamic forces were converging on the area around the two towns.”

 

The report added that the Islamic forces had “clashed with the lines of defense set up by the towns’ residents to prevent a repeat of the evictions and revenge attacks that happened in [Iraq’s] Mosul.”

 

However, the activist told NOW that Muhradah is currently witnessing clashes between pro-regime forces and Free Syrian Army battalions allied with Al-Nusra Front fighters.

 

“The regime’s National Defense Army is based inside the town in the Muhradah monastery and the Ghada Shuaa nursery, from where it is shelling FSA battalions in the Muhradah countryside, which are returning fire.”

 

“There are FSA battalions in the Muhradah countryside made up of locals as well as Al-Nusra front [fighters] who have allied with them.”

 

Meanwhile, Ali Mohammad—an activist in the Hama countryside—told NOW that  “the clashes around Muhradah are part of the ‘Greater Badr al-Sham raid’ campaign launched by FSA battalions a week ago against Syrian regime forces in the area [and are] not [intended] to wipe out Christians.”

 

“Clashes are currently under way on the Al-Majdal and Al-Qahmaniyeh checkpoint near Maharda, not inside the city.”

 

“The groups taking part in the campaign are Liwaa al-Iman, Liwaa Khattab, and Liwaa al-Muhajireen wa al-Ansar from the Islamic Front, as well as Jund al-Aqsa, Jabhat Thuwar Saraqeb and Jabhat Haqq al-Muqatila,” he added.

 

The activist also said that FSA battalions have blocked the road connecting Hama and its satellite town Maharda, which is considered to be one of the regime’s most important lines for transporting supplies from Hama military airport and security branches in the city to the north and west Hama countryside.

The regime’s National Defense Army is based inside the town in the Muhradah monastery and the Ghada Shuaa nursery, from where it is shelling FSA battalions in the Muhradah countryside.