In what was considered one of the last towns in Syria that’s retained even the semblance of religious freedom during the ongoing Syrian Civil War, al Qaeda terrorists have been accused of planting bombs in the Cathedral by none other than the leader of the Melkite Catholics, as reported by The Telegraph (of London, England) on Oct. 16, 2013.
The spiritual shepherd of the world’s one million Melkite-Rite Catholics, Patriarch Gregorios III stated in a London press conference that two explosive “devices” were found in the Cathedral of Constantine and Saint Helen in the al Qaeda-affiliated rebel-held town of Yabroud.
One of the two bombs was in the Confessional, the second attached to the outdoor cross atop the Cathedral’s dome.
Forty miles north of Damascus, the ancient Christian enclave of Yabroud was recently occupied by one of the many rebel factions known to be allied with the world-wide al Qaeda terrorist network.
Once overwhelmingly Christian, both Eastern-Rite Catholics and their Orthodox brethren presently comprise only a third of the town’s population.
The Patriarch also stated that the jihadists have forced a Jizya, essentially a tax levied on Christians, by the jihadists on the town’s Christians families of $35,000 per month.
As reported by The Washington Times last month, “Syrian rebels went into a Christian man’s ‘shop and gave him three options: become Muslim; pay $70,000 as a tax levied on non-Muslims, known as Jizya; or be killed along with his family.’”