The bodies of 30 Christian civilians, including women and children, killed by Islamist militias, have been found in two separate mass graves, in the city of Sadad. The number of Christian civilians confirmed dead in this small town halfway between Homs and Damascus has reached 45. Many are injured and several are missing.
The city of Sadad, a Christian settlement, was invaded and occupied by Islamist militias on 21 October. It was recaptured in recent days by the Syrian regular army. When the representatives of the Patriarchate and families of the victims returned to their town they found to their horror two mass graves, where they found the bodies of their relatives and friends. In an atmosphere of grief, outrage and emotion, the funerals of the 30 Christians were celebrated by Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama.
According to eyewitnesses, many of the civilians were killed by militia gangs of 'Al- Nusra Front' and 'Daash'. The city has been completely destroyed and looted. Some of the militants who invaded the city were holed up in the Syriac Orthodox Church of St Theodore, which was profaned. Sadad is an ancient Syriac village which dates back to 2000 BC located in the region of Qalamoon, north of Damascus. It had 14 churches, a monastery, temples, historic landmarks and archaeological sites.
Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh said: "What happened in Sadad is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two and a half years... 45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing.
"For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields. Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women. Some of them fled on foot travelling eight kilometres from Sadad to Al-Hafer to find refuge. About 2,500 families fled from Sadad, taking only their clothes, due to the irruption of armed groups and today they are refugees scattered between Damascus, Homs, Fayrouza, Zaydal, Maskane, and Al-Fhayle".
The Archbishop said: "There is no electricity, water and telephone in the city. All the houses of Sadad were robbed and property looted. The churches are damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture. Schools, government buildings, municipal buildings have been destroyed, along with the post office, the hospital and the clinic".
"What happened in Sadad" he said "is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East, after the one in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq, in 2010".
Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh concluded: "We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us".