Click photo to download. Caption: A Syrian refugee camp on the Syria-Turkey border for displaced people of the Syrian civil war. Credit: Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell on the Turkish border.
John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International–a Christian human rights
NGO based in Switzerland–told the U.S. Congress in a testimony on Tuesday that
the Syrian civil war “could lead to the eradication of religious minorities,”
including Christians, Alawites and other non-Sunni Muslim groups in Syria.
Eibner, who testified as part of a subcommittee hearing
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee held by U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), recently returned
from a fact-finding and humanitarian aid mission in Syria.
According to Eibner’s testimony, while
in Syria he met with “many resilient and courageous Syrians, mainly displaced
Christians and church workers.” Eibner told the subcommittee that victims “recounted
to me the religious cleansing of Christian neighborhoods in Homs and Qusair by
armed jihadis who threatened them with death if they did not leave their homes.”
“A Christian woman told me that before
she fled Homs, she had seen the beheading in broad daylight of an Alawite girl
who was pulled off a public minibus by armed jihadis,” Eibner said in
transcript provided to JNS.org.
The Syrian civil war has become a deadly
mix of sectarian violence between the Alawaite/Shi’a aligned government forces
supported by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia and the mainly Sunni-led opposition
supported by Turkey and Arab Gulf States. According to a report in the New York Times citing the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights, more than 100,000 people have died in the
Christians, who comprise around 10
percent of the Syrian population and have previously supported the relatively
secular government of President Bashar al-Assad, have been caught up in the
crossfire as sectarian battles increase.