Syrian Christians may get pulled into civil war
Some Syrian Christians say the regime is causing the worst of the attacks to force the Christians to choose sides decisively for the regime. Some even blame the regime for the terrorists being in Syria in the first place.
"I think that the regime is very accomplished in promoting sectarianism," said Osama Edward, 35, a Syrian Christian who runs the Assyrian Network for Human Rights and is currently based in Stockholm. "The incident at Maaloula proves that beyond a reasonable doubt."
Landis says the conflict has exacerbated Christian fears they are being driven out of the Middle East. Christians in Cairo and the West Bank, whose faith predates Islam by centuries, have been leaving their ancient enclaves because of threats and attacks.
"It doesn’t take much," Landis said. "Christians were driven out of Anatolia before the first world war. They’ve been driven out of Iraq. They’ve been driven out of Palestine/Israel. The Copts have been getting the bad end of the stick in Egypt. The Syrian regime has been taken advantage of Christians feeling their days are numbered."
Christians are still hoping they can avoid taking sides or taking up arms.
"We don’t care who is the ruler of this country," said Amar Kassar, a Catholic priest from Qatana, a town west of the capital. Kassar was speaking to Sky News.
Kassar was severely injured by a mortar in a Damascus neighborhood last month.
"We are against the formation of an Islamic state. We want a Syrian secular state for all Syrians," he said.
(Stephen Starr writes for USA Today. Contributing to this report: Abdulrahman al-Masri in Amman, Jordan and Janelle Dumalaon in Berlin.)