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Christians in Homs province fear jihadist advance

Christians in the strategic Wadi al-Nasara area are pinning their defense on the Syrian army’s ability to hold the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra at bay.
An old damaged Orthodox Church is pictured in the besieged area of Homs December 8, 2013. REUTERS/Yazan Homsy (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT RELIGION) - RTX16A57
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WADI AL-NASARA, Syria — The Christian residents of Wadi al-Nasara have felt reassurance and calm as the Syrian regime has been able to maintain control over the area and its surroundings throughout much of the conflict. But that ease has been rattled by the Islamic State’s (IS) advances in the east of Syria, and the violations it committed against Christians in Mosul.

The Wadi al-Nasara region is in the countryside of western Homs. It's made up of a group of villages located below the surrounding ones. Most inhabitants are Christians and the largest village is Marmarita. Although Wadi al-Nasara administratively belongs to Homs province, it is geographically and demographically closer to the mountains of the Syrian coast, as they merge with the town of Tartus from the west. Moreover, Wadi al-Nasara and its surroundings have particular importance in the context of the conflict raging in Syria because it enjoys pronounced sectarian diversity, with Alawite, Sunni and Christian villages spread throughout the area. Moreover, the region has significant strategic value as it overlooks the southeastern entrance of the Syrian coast, which is considered the stronghold of the Syrian regime.

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