JNS.org – Dr. 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 conflict.
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.