Abuses against Christians by opposition forces in Syria have been exaggerated, but there are many valid concerns from the minority, according to Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, author of a new paper on Christians in Syria for the Henry Jackson Society thinktank.
He dismissed claims that Christians had been ethnically cleansed from Syria as propaganda by pro-government websites. But there have been instances of anti-Christian violence by rebels in the northern city of Aleppo, Tamimi told the Guardian. And such attacks are likely to become more frequent as more jihadis travel to Syria to fight and radical Islam takes hold among Syrians, he said.
The new opposition coalition has tried to appeal to Christians, but Tamimi said this is unlikely to succeed because the exiled opposition lacks credibility inside Syria.
The election of the Christian George Sabra to lead the Syrian National Council will not change Christian fears about the opposition, he said.
The perception that they [the opposition] are against minorities is only being reinforced [by recent violence in Aleppo].
To reconcile Christian groups there will need to be a policy of genuine national unity in any post-Assad government, he said.