Deutsche Welle: President Assad stages Easter visit to Christian town in Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has visited a historic Christian town recently retaken by his regime forces. During the Easter visit to Maaloula, Assad met with a Christian priest.

As Pope Francis called for the two sides of the Syrian civil war to “boldly negotiate” peace in the three-year conflict, Assad made a rare public appearance in the town of Maaloula, a historic Christian town known as one of the world’s oldest Christian settlements.

A picture uploaded on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency on April 20, 2014, shows Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad looking at icons as he visits a monastery in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula which his troops recently recaptured from rebels.

The town was recently held by rebels that oppose Assad’s regime, but Syrian army forces – backed by soldiers from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement – recaptured it earlier this week.

During a visit to the town’s Christian sites, Assad was photographed holding religious artifacts – some of which had been damaged.

“Even the worst terrorists cannot erase our heritage and civilization,” Assad said, according to Syrian state television. The regime refers to anti-government rebels as terrorists.

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He calls them terrorists? Well, a lot of them, possibly a majority, are just that.