Syria: Aleppo rebel chief says Christians will be protected

23 August, 12:24

(ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, AUGUST 23 - Syria's rebels with the Free Syrian Army (ESL), mostly Sunni Muslims, say they are close to the Christian districts of Aleppo, a key battleground in the ongoing war between the Syrian regime and opposition, and that they will "protect all inhabitants regardless of their religion".

In an interview with the pan-Arab and Qatar-financed al Jazeera television network, which supports rebels, the head of ESL's military operations in Aleppo, Abdel Qader Saleh said: "We are here to make the criminal regime fall through the liberation of Aleppo".

"Our role is to protect all citizens, including of course non-Muslims", the chief also said. "We will moreover not allow anyone to harm Christians or residents from other religions.

Ours is not a battle against one or more religious communities, but against a criminal regime".

Abdel Qader Saleh heads the Tawhid Brigade, a platform of several ESL groups, some close to Islamic fundamentalism.

Aleppo is historically a cosmopolitan city with a strong community of Orthodox Christians and Jews. Saleh says he heads 8,000 men.

In the past few days ESL announced it had gained control of 70 percent of Aleppo while government media announced "operations against terrorists" in various districts of the city.(ANSAmed).

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