Islamic Rebels in Syria Protect Christian Elderlies

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Created by Abdu al-Fadel

13 Oct 2014

Format mpeg4, Bitrate 6.53 mbps

October 10, 2014
Aleppo, Syria

Mar Elias care center for the elderly used to be a Syriac catholic monastery, that maintained some of its aspects and rituals. Six senior citizens inhabit the monastery, most of whom have no other place to go or anyone to turn to. The monastery is on the front line in the conflict between the rebels and the regime. Al-Mujahidin, a moderate Islamic group affiliated with the Islamic front is protecting it.

Shot List:

Various shots show rituals and prayers being performed.
Various shots the interiors and exteriors of the monastery.
Interviews with a group of the monastery inhabitants.
Various shots show the daily life of the monastery inhabitants.


1) Um Youssef, an inhabitant of the neighborhood, takes care of the elderly and visits them everyday (woman, Arabic).
2) Bridget, A senior citizen who does not have any relatives, in the blue outfit (woman, Arabic).
3) Antoinette, a senior citizen who as been living in the monastery for years, in the brown outfit (woman, Arabic).
4) Lamyaa, A woman who has been living in the monastery for a very long time, has two sibling in a regime controlled area, does not know anything about them (woman, Arabic).
5) Abu Steif, a leader in al-Mowa7edeen al-Morabeteen army, his mission is to protect the monastery and its inhabitants (man, Arabic)


(02:31) "I am happy, we want you to be happy."

(02:44) "Why would I live, to do what? I pray for God to take me but he does not listen to me."

Interviewer: He listens to you but he is ignoring you because he does not want to take such a good person like a you, you are a rose.

"I am the thorns not the rose."

(03:55) "People brought me here, I have been here for a long time, I cannot remember exactly. I am old and my life now is not the way it used to be."

(04:29) "I used to be very good in school and when I finished tenth grade, they gave me a certificate."

(05:18) "Once i was taking a lesson and when it was over, I was taken to hospital."

(05:29) "This is the picture for my ID."

(05:31) "When the nuns left, we left too."

Um Youssef:

(06:00) "I am Um Youssef from the elderly care center, I come here, I cook and take care of them. Thanks to the FSA. They bring us aid and bread constantly. The only thing that annoys us is the sound of shelling, but other than that, we want nothing but their safety and we hope they achieve victory."

"I cook for the elderly the meals they like the most, such as soups, yoghurt and light meals because they do not eat a lot. In the afternoon I make them snacks, and in the morning, I make the breakfast. We do not need anything, thank God. May God help them."

(06:57) "We are living here with Muslims and all the other sects, there is no conflict at all. They love and respect us and the feeling is mutual. There is no problem between us at all. We all worship one God and we all say Allah. We do not wish them harm and they do not wish us harm. Ever since the beginning of the revolution, we are one hand."

(07:33) "Sometimes we hear shelling, so the people here get scared, and they are old, so they start crying. They situation is very tough."

(07:51) "I came here for a reason of course. My house used to be in Achrafieh, but it was destroyed, so we turned to the Syriac catholic priest. We told him about our situation so he sent us here to Mar Elias. They gave us a room and told us to stay here. There used to be a cook here, and I used to help her, but when the shelling got intense, she got scared and her children did not allow her to come here anymore, so she left and I took over."

Abu Youssf:

(08:42) "My name is Abu Youssef, I am in the elderly care center in the Syriac Catholic church. I came here as a resident just like all the people here. Our condition is difficult and I had to stay in the care center to protect the elderly we have here. Their ages vary and some have reached 98-99 years old. The eldest is 99 years old and the youngest is 85 years old. My wife and I wanted to leave the care center, but then we thought that if we left, who would take care of those old people? Who will look after them? So we were forced to stay here, to take care of them, cook for them, and look after them. I will talk to the officials here to try to get aid and support."

(10:14) "Me and my wife heard noise. We ran and heard people screaming "barrel bomb", so we ran to see what it was. We found a barrel bomb right in front of our house. There was 5-10 meters between us and the barrel bomb. Thank God while it was falling it hit a pole and the cable was cut, so it fell on the ground without exploding. God protected us and I did not explode."

Abu Steif:

(11:16) "We respect them, we were friends with their children, we ate their food. This is not a crusade. We are only defending our dignity, our Islam. Who is saying this is a religious and an Islamic revolution is a troublemaker. It is not true, it is not Islamic, those people are being paid to ruin everything. We have been living together for decades. We have always been together and they know us. Our only problem is with the criminal regime."

(12:02) "These people are old, and those thugs keep threatening them. They do not allow them to leave the area, we try to help them as much as possible, we split the water, the food, and the medication in half, between us and them."