In parts of Syria where they’ve taken over fighters from al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) are increasingly targeting sites belonging to the nation’s religious minorities, particularly in the northern provinces.
In Raqqa, along the frontier where AQI fighters have been clashing with Kurds, the target is Christian churches, and several have been ransacked by the fighters, who have also destroyed prominently displayed crosses.
At the same time, AQI has demolished multiple Jewish mausoleums in the Aleppo Province, ancient remnants of a once thriving religious minority.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a London-based faction that endorses secular rebels, criticized the moves as violation of “freedom of religion,” which they argued was in the spirit of the rebellion. Increasingly, however, the rebellion is dominated by Sunni Islamist factions who are fighting all religious minorities, and cracking down on their secular brethren just as badly.