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Syria: 'Crimes against humanity' in Christian town says MP

last update: December 03, 17:37

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Rome, 3 Dec. (AKI) - A Syrian MP has urged the world's nations and Pope Francis to stop "crimes against humanity" in the historic Christian town of Maalula, which activists said was captured by rebels on Monday.

"The true crime against humanity in Syria is in Maalula," Christian MP Maria Saddeh told Adnkronos International (AKI), a day after the United Nations implicated Syria's authoritarian president Bashar al-Assad in war crimes.

"Sixteen nuns have been kidnapped, civilians are being killed and a monastery and 60 houses were burnt down yesterday," said Saddeh, who was elected to parliament as an independent.

"A massacre in taking place and the West cannot look on. Nations and the Pope must intervene."

"Maalula is a global symbol of Christianity, part of Syrian and world heritage, where Aramaic is still spoken, where there are churches, monasteries and early Christian archaeological sites," she stressed.

Syrian rebels including the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front and other jihadist groups overran Maalula north of Damascus after after five days of intense fighting, UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.

The Observatory claimed that at least 126,000 people have died in the two and a half year conflict between rebels and pro-Assad forces.

Saddeh accused "extremist groups who want to create an Islamic Caliphate" of unleashing "targeted attacks" on Syria's Christians in the conflict as part of a plan to remove the religious minority from the Middle East region.

She called on the international community to "put pressure on those states that support terrorism, above all Saudi Arabia, but also on France".

Rebels abducted 12 Syrian and Lebanese Orthodox nuns from their convent in Maalula on on Monday after moving into the town, Vatican Radio reported, citing Mario Zenari, the Holy See's nunzio or envoy to Syria.

The Vatican was "closely following the case of the Maalula nuns held hostage by Islamists in Syria," its spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Tuesday.

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