Syria Christians Caught in Brutal Islamic Civil War

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Christians in Syria are under increasing attack by Muslim rebels -- the same rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

In a country torn by violent civil war, the sounds of a church bell ringing stands in stark contrast to the sounds of gunfire and bombs that have become the norm.

Many Christians have fled Syria; others are standing their ground, risking their lives to attend church. 

How can Christians outside of Syria help? CBN News Senior International Correspondent Gary Lane, answers this and more, on CBN Newswatch, Nov. 1.

"Even when they hear bombs and shelling, as you see, there are many people in the churches because they see the only hope in the prayer," Armenian Bishop Armash Nalbandian told CBN News

Christians are one of the largest religious minorities in Syria. They make up about 10 percent of the country's 23 million people and have found themselves caught in the middle of a brutal civil war.

Sunni-led Muslim rebels, who are fighting the government, have repeatedly shelled predominantly Christian neighborhoods in Damascus. In addition, al Qaeda-linked fighters have desecrated churches in areas they've seized.

"They are targeting specifically a Christian area," Sami Amir, a Christian from eastern Damascus, said. "They want people to go out or maybe they want them to be against the regime."

The attacks on Christians have Syria's religious minorities deeply concerned about the growing role of Islamic extremism among the rebels fighting the Assad regime.

Islamist extremists took over the village of Maaloula last month. Youssef Naame said he and his wife crawled into a small house next to the church where they hid for three days until the shooting stopped.

Youssef said the jihadists shouted, "Anybody who wants to convert to Islam is good; otherwise they will be killed."

At least 32 people have been killed and dozens injured in recent weeks in the Christian district of al-Qassa.

At the start of the civil war, many Christians tried to stay neutral.

But as rebel forces have become dominated by Muslim jihadists, Christians often have to side with the government.

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