In what the Syrian government called a “turning point” in its intense internal violence, forces loyal to Beshir Al Assad killed dozens of what they called “foreign terrorists.” The government confirmed those killed were members of the unified Islamist group ISIS.
Raqqa, in northern Iraq near Aleppo in a region that is in ISIS control, is a city of about 300,000 people, with about a 1 percent Christian population. The BBC reported yesterday that ISIS has demanded dhimma tribute in pure gold from the remaining Christians in the area or face death. Christians are also prohibited from ringing church bells, displaying crosses, or praying in public — or they will face the sword.
Syria’s president confirmed the terrorists were ISIS, not Hezbollah or Al-Shabaab, who have been fighting, it is thought, with the Free Syrian Army.
The United States refused comment on the development when asked.
U.S. military sources have said that there is a concern that the ISIS strength in the north of Syria is allowing Islamist groups safe haven to plan attacks against the United States itself.