Last Sunday, Christians in Idleb governorate celebrated the Feast of Saint Anna in the village of Yacoubiya for the first time since military factions took control of the area.
Activists and residents of Christian villages in Idleb circulated photos and videos of the opening of the Church of St. Anna in the village of Yacoubiya, with residents participating from the villages of Yacoubia, Jadida, and Qunaya.
For the past 10 years, members of the Armenian Orthodox community have been celebrating the feast of Saint Anna in Aleppo and Kassab, north of Lattakia.
In a Facebook post, Idleb-based journalist Ezzedine Zakour wrote: “Let there be no coercion in religion. I am very happy with this scene, this picture. I stand with every human being who performs his or her religious practices and freely adopts their personal beliefs in this region, across every inch of it. In this region, I still dream of it becoming a foundation for building a free nation-state for all Syrians, although I believe at the moment that this is impossible, unfortunately.”
According to Syria TV’s sources, Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) contacted Christian figures from Idleb abroad, especially in Germany, and informed them of their desire for the return of Christians, who would also receive their property once more. Separately, HTS had also worked separately to review land title records and ascertain ownership over those properties while also searching for contacts with the owners through their neighbours and other associates. According to the sources, HTS offered some owners the option of renting out their houses and benefiting from the residence economically, even if the person remains outside HTS-controlled areas, as a gesture of good faith. The sources added that HTS worked to remove the DTC Educational Institute from the Church of Our Lady in Idleb.
Julani capitalized on Western reports that Christians are leaving regime areas in Damascus, Homs and Deir-ez-Zor and met with elders in the two communities. According to Syria TV’s sources, Julani called on communities’ elders, especially the Christians, to communicate with those who left Idleb years ago and convince them to return. Julani declared that he had opened a new chapter and restored many rights to property owners, thus placing the ball in the court of minorities who contributed a lot but had not returned a single Christian or Druze to Idleb. According to the sources, Julani’s message to Christians bore a tone of reproach.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.