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DAMASCUS: Honouring Maloula’s Martyrs – The Long Road Home

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Vanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire

In 2013,  six young men were kidnapped from the ancient Christian town of Maloula, during the NATO and Gulf state funded, Nusra Front/Free Syrian Army-led invasion of this extraordinary hillside town, that still teaches the language of Christ in its schools, Aramaic. For the first six months, after their kidnap,  their families remained in contact with the kidnappers among the Free Syrian Army or so called “moderates” & Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda, then communications ended abruptly.

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Families continued to believe in a “miracle” and to pray for their safe return for the following three years. These hopes were cruelly destroyed recently when the executed bodies of five of the  young men were found close to the Syrian border and were identified as the kidnap victims.

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The Martyrs’ names are : Ghassan Michael Shnis, Atef Ragheb Kalomeh, Shady Michael Thalab, Daoud Sarkis Milaneh and Jihad Mtanios Thalab. The sixth kidnapped young man, Moosa Shannis is still missing. 

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For more history on the invasion of Maloula, by the FSA and Nusra Front in 2013/14 and the valiant battles to retake Maloula by its own citizens, the SAA and their allies, please read Eva Bartlett’s article: Overcoming Savagery & Treachery, Maloula’s Heroic Defenders Fight for the Future:

“Maaloula is still rebuilding, and much of its population is still displaced, but the people of Maaloula are not defeated. They cling tenaciously to their history and culture, and fight as tenaciously for their future.

Maaloula advocate Abdo Haddad emphasized how this fight is not only for his village and people, but for Syria.

“This formidable people who resisted tyranny, persecution and oppression, those are the people of Maaloula, of Syria. This is not about Christians versus Muslims, this is about defenders fighting for their people, country, futures.”

It is thanks to these heroes and their Syrian Arab Army soldiers and allies that future generations will carry on the language and traditions of the ancient village.

This continued and unwavering defence is emblematic of the defence waged by Syrians all over Syria.” ~ Eva Barlett

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Today in Damascus we were honoured to attend the funeral ceremony for these five brave souls whose relatives in the tight knit community of Maloula are still reeling from the shock of their death after three years, praying, and continuing to hope for their safe return.

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The grief and rage was palpable, both from those close family members walking with the coffins and from the people of Damascus who flocked onto the streets to pay their respects. United in the senseless loss of yet more young lives in this 6 year war being waged against Syria by NATO and Gulf state regimes.

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The thing that unites Syrians most, are our martyrs,” said Abdo Hadad, whose cousin was among the martyrs. Sadly, the last few days in Syria have proven this statement over and over again.

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Dany Milaneh, from Maloula (photo above), had been shot by a sniper, in his spine, in Zamalka [Damascus suburbs] 2013, and left paralysed, wheelchair bound. His brother, Daoud Milaneh was among the martyrs.

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Ghoufran Derawan from Damascus was with me today and she said:

“I was so sad today to be attending the funeral of the heroes of Maloula. Every day we lose some of our people. I remembered my sister and my nephew at the same time and all the martyrs of Syria. Syria doesnt deserve all this loss. I want this war to end and to stop all the blood. I want to get rid of the terrorists. Mercy to all our Martyrs, civilians and the SAA.

After what happened we will never forget and we will never forgive” the young men chanted as the procession moved slowly through the streets leading to the Patriarchate for the final service.

“Bring your good wishes for these young men of marriage age…. let them benefit from your good wishes… they died before they could marry, so let them celebrate their wedding in their death”.

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“Please ask the [Syrian] government to take revenge for us and to get rid of the terrorists for the sake of our martyrs. We cannot live with these terrorists in the same country” one woman asked us as she walked alongside the coffins. Her eyes blazed with anger.

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Ghoufran Derewan asked Abdo Haddad when this suffering will end….

It’s over when we win this war. We keep fighting until we win or we die.” ~ Abdo Haddad

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God bless the martyrs of Maloula and take their souls into peace and rest from the turmoil on earth.

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Farewell brave souls….travel well into the light…you will never be forgotten.

All photographs taken by Vanessa Beeley. A personal account of a day of mourning, another marking of loss and destruction in a war being forced upon the people of Syria.

Enough, its too much~ several of the mourners on the streets of Damascus

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READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

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