Islamist rebels from an al-Qaeda-affilated group on Monday invaded a Syrian town comprised primarily of Christians and abducted approximately 12 nuns, according to former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement official, Douglas Horwartzen.
According to Horwartzen, the jihadists took total control of the Christian town of Maaloula, which is located north of Damascus. .
The heavily armed Muslim terrorists began burning houses inside of Maaloula, the news media reported, and the rebels also abducted and tortured at least a dozen Catholic nuns from the nearby Mar Thecla Monastery, the largest Christian compound in that region.
Maaloula is one of the original strongholds of Christianity in Syria during the time of the early church, according to Horwartzen.
The town of Maaloula has experienced several battles between President Bashar al-Assad's troops and the mostly Islamist rebels, according to an Examiner news story.
"With all of Assad's obvious faults and crimes, he did protect Christians from the radical Muslims in Syria under his regime. Once he is removed, Syrian followers of Jesus Christ should expect to experience the violence and devastation that Christians experience in Egypt and other Muslim nations in the Middle East and Africa," said police counterterrorism expert Sean Laughlin.
Assad's Minister of Social Services, Kinda al-Shammat, is calling for the release of the captured nuns, according to the Syrian Network.
Syria's Foreign Ministry also sent dispatched letters to the chairman of the United Nations Security Council and the UN's Secretary-General detailing the al-Qaeda-linked rebels' attack against the predominately Catholic town and the desecration and destruction of churches, businesses and homes.
"We call on the UN Security Council to condemn these terrorist acts in the strongest terms, and we call on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities and exert pressure on the countries which are supporting these groups to stop providing them with support," said the foreign ministry in its letter.