We now have a video tape that shows how the Assad Regime forced the Free Syrian Army to attack al-Qalamoun, Cherubim Convent. First Assad deployed his troops and tanks at the convent on a hill in Qalamoun. Then they started bombing civilians in Qalamoun from that convent. This forced the FSA to attack the Assad forces there to stop them from slaughtering people. When they did, Assad got the story he was looking for:
Anyone who believes whose tanks were only protecting the convent and not bombarding the people below has not been paying attention to the battle of Qalamoun. On 21 November 2013, two day after the video below was posted, Al Monitor published an article titled:
FSA Terrorists Attack Ancient Convent in SaidnayaThe Cherubim convent situated on the highest summit of the Qalamoun mountains has recently erected the tallest Jesus statue in Syria, one that is even larger than that of Rio de Janeiro. However, militants from the Western-backed "Free Syrian Army" (FSA) have been eyeing the convent for a while. They have attempted multiple times to get to the convent, especially by targeting Syrian Army tanks stationed outside the convent whose aim is to protect the ancient religious site from extremist Wahhabi militants fighting in the ranks of the FSA and their al-Qaeda allies. The coming 'battle for Qalamoun'
The Qalamoun battle made the headlines. It was deemed a battle that would be of great importance in the ongoing war between the Syrian regime and the opposition, one that would have significant repercussions on the course of the conflict that has been plaguing the country for more than 30 months now
The first surprising thing in Qalamoun is the vast opposition-controlled areas. I walked more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) and did not come across one regime checkpoint. Qalamoun includes more than 20 towns, chief among them Yabrud, Qara, Nabk, Assal, Wared and Rankos, and is home to more than a million residents.
Last year, I went to Qalamoun, and it was quite difficult to move. We would travel at night through the mountains on horseback, or walk along military roads. Today, however, the scene has changed. We now use cars to cut through the vast distances and easily move between villages and towns. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has managed to remove more than 40 regime checkpoints. Chief among these are: the Fakhookh checkpoint, which connects the Barada Valley with Qalamoun; the famous National Hospital checkpoint in the town of Rankos; and the Maaloula checkpoint, which was removed by Jabhat al-Nusra a couple of weeks ago. The Mazabel checkpoint is the only checkpoint left in the village of Halbun despite the opposition's repeated attempts to strike it, as well as a recent strike by Jabhat al-Nusra.
The opposition now controls about 70% of the Qalamoun region, while the regime only controls the international road and adjacent areas such as Kotaifah, Saidnaya, Hafir, Badda, Deir Attiya and Jayrud.
We met with Qadisiyya Brigade Chief of Staff Abu Wasim. He spoke about the sensitivity of the situation in Rankos and its environs. This town sums up the demographic reality in Qalamoun, as it is surrounded by several villages inhabited by Christian families such as Saidnaya, Mneen and Maaloula: “Our relationship with our fellow Christians has been good throughout history. Just like us, they were suffering from the regime. With the start of the revolution, most of them were in favor of reform, but the situation has changed today, they are now loyal to the regime after it managed to intimidate them into fearing us.”
“Look at the Cherubim monastery on top of the mountain in the town of Saidnaya. Look at the cannons holed up on the front hill. There are a lot of snipers who are close to the monastery. We can target it, but the problem is that the regime will use this and start saying that we are targeting Christians and minorities, as happened a few weeks ago in Maaloula,” Abu Wassim told me. More...
In this video, you can see not only Assad's tanks, but also massive arrays of antennas. They aren't there so that the convent can have satellite TV. Even without the tanks, the Assad regime turned the convent into a legitimate military target by making it a regime communications and observation center.
This is how the propaganda war is being played in Syria these days. The Assad regime gives the people the choice of attacking regime positions set up in Christian churches or letting themselves be slaughtered. When they do what is obviously necessary, it is used by certain elements in the Left to demonize the Syrian Revolution and more importantly, it is providing Obama with the justification for coming out of the closet with his support for the regime.