The 78-year-old Catholic priest, Rev. Daniël Maes, lives in Syria at the the Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara. Built in the sixth century, the monastery lies approximately 75 miles north of Damascus. Originally from the Flemish-speaking region of Belgium, Wallonia, Father Daniel has witnessed the devastating war that has killed thousands and forced over a million Syrians to flee as refugees. He believes that there has been, indeed, no civil war and that the reality is that, “the Americans and their allies want to completely ruin the country.” He has lived in Syria since 2010.
 
In an interview with the Dutch Algemeen Dagblad newspaper, Father Daniel said, “The idea that a popular uprising took place against President Assad is completely false.. He said that “agitators from outside Syria organized protests against the government and recruited young people.” The bilingual Arabic/English Al Jazeera network, he said, gave reports to give the impression that a rebellion was taking place. “Murders were committed by foreign terrorists, against the Sunni and Christian communities, in an effort to sow religious and ethnic discord among the Syrian people. While in my experience, the Syrian people were actually very united.”
 
The priest said that before the hostilities broke out, Syria was harmonious and that the secular state allowed the various religious communities to live in peace side by side. While free expression of political ideas was not possible, he said, most people did not care about it. In addition, education was free, healthcare was good, and there was hardly any poverty.
 
The interviewer said that a religious sister, Mother Agnès-Mariam of Mar Yakub, has been accused of favoring the Assad regime. In response the priest said that she helps people and has opened up a soup kitchen where 25,000 meals are prepared five times a week. Saying that it is “miraculous” that his religious community remains alive, the priest said, “We owe that to the army of Assad’s government and to Vladimir Putin, because he decided to intervene when the rebels threatened to take power.”
 
Father Daniel once called former secretary of state Hillary Clinton a “devil in holy water” because he believes she exacerbated the deadly conflict. In the interview, he said, “I am happy with Trump. He sees what every normal person understands: That the United States should stop undermining countries which possess natural resources. The Americans’ attempt to impose a unipolar world is the biggest problem. Trump understands that radical Islam is a bigger threat than Russia.”
 
The priest addressed some of the criticisms lain against Trump and his personal life. “What do I care whether he occasionally takes off his pants? If Trump practices geopolitics the way he has promised to do so, then the future looks bright. Then it will become similar to Putin’s approach. And hopefully then, there will be a solution for Syria, and peace will return.”
 
“I speak from personal observation. And no one has to believe me, right? But I know one thing: The media can either contribute to the massacre of the Syrian people or help the Syrian people, with their media coverage. Unfortunately, there are too many followers and cowards among journalists.”
Father Daniel said that when thousands of terrorists from the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Turkey, Libya, and Chechnya in the Qara, Christians were afraid for their lives. “Armed to the teeth by the West and their allies with the intention to act against us, they literally said: ‘This country belongs to us now.’” He added that when Assad’s army routed them, Syrians rejoiced because peace had returned. 
 
With regard to alleged atrocities committed by Assad’s army, Father Daniel, “Do you not know that the media coverage on Syria is the biggest media lie of our time? They have sold pure nonsense about Assad. It was actually the rebels who plundered and killed. Do you think that the Syrian people are stupid? Do you think those people were forced to cheer for Assad and Putin? It is the Americans who have a hand in all of this, for pipelines and natural resources in this region and to thwart Putin.”
 
“Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to establish a Sunni state in Syria, without religious freedom. Therefore, Assad must go. You know, when the Syrian army was preparing for the battle in Aleppo, Muslim soldiers came to me to be blessed. Between ordinary Muslims and Christians, there is no problem. It is those radical Islamic, Western-backed rebels who want to massacre us. They are all al Qaeda and IS. There are not any moderate fighters anymore.”


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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