Saint George’s Church in Al Nabek town was the only Melkite church there. Strategically located midway between Damascus and Homs, Al Nabek is situated in the Qalamoun Mountains and stands at an altitude of 1,255 metres. In October 2013, the Syrian government army encircled the city of Nabek and repelled rebel troops. This armed oﬀensive was important because the mountains overlook the main highway, which facilitated the free ﬂow of goods and military materials for the regime in the area. A week later, all the rebels made their way to the Christian neighbourhood of Al
Nabek. In response, the area was heavily shelled by the Syrian army in November 2013.
“The jihadists thought that the government would spare them if they camped in the Christian district” Sr. Houda Fadoul reported. “But that was not the case. There was ferce fghting here. To make things worse, the Christian district lies unprotected on a hill, so the Christian houses were an easy target. The people hid for weeks in cellars.”
Some 90 Christian houses were destroyed or damaged following consecutive bombings; St. George’s Church was not spared. The shrine’s dome suﬀered a direct hit, and the walls suﬀered damage – as did the presbytery, which is close to the church. Even before the events of autumn 2013, life in
Al Nabek was not easy because of power cuts, shortages of heating fuel and increasing food prices.
Of the 500 Christian families living in Al Nabek before 2012, only 120 remained and in October 2017 they gathered for a thanksgiving Mass; their buildings may be in ruins, but the people are still alive and cling on in hope.