Conflict & Justice

A Lebanese nun argues the US and others are wrong about Syria and should negotiate peace

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Credit: Leo Hornak

Mother Agnes Miriam says a negotiated peace is needed in Syria.

Mother Agnes Miriam is a Lebanese Catholic nun who used to live and work in Syria. 

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Earlier this year, she was in the international spotlight for disputing evidence the US and others said pointed to a chemical weapons attack by the Assad government. Russia cited her work as an argument against intervention in Syria.

Mother Agnes claims several children who appear as victims in a video of the alleged chemical attack last August were actually kidnapped after unrelated attacks elsewhere in Syria.

And she says she's just trying to track them down.

"The survivors, the families of those abudcted people, they said that they discovered that some children that were abducted ... were figuring as victims in the alleged chemical attack. So this pushed me to track the children in the videos," she says. "And as I am an expert in observation because I restore icons and other heritage objects, I began to see some discrepancies."

She compiled a 50-page report that she says is mostly asking questions. But she cites "evidence" that shows the videos of victims of a chemical attack were fake.

Credible sources, such as Human Rights Watch, have investigated and said there was no basis for her claims. 

She says her main concern is to uphold human rights for all Syrians. She argues that fundamentalist groups, under the cover of religion, are committing acts of barbarism against civilians, including Christians and Sunnis.

"It is an ethical role. It is a social role. It is a humanitarian role. It is a civilian role," she says.

Still, Mother Agnes has been described as the most media-friendly face of the regime of Bashar al-Assad regime — a label she doesn't embrace, though she doesn't reject it outright, either.

"If you consider that reconciliation is a friendly face, if you consider that humanitarian targets are a friendly face, if you consider that forgiveness is a friendly face, then I'll have to ask how am I a friendly face," she says.

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    Credit: Leo Hornak

    Mother Agnes Miriam has been called an apologist for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Still, she argues a negotiated peace is critical in the war-torn country.

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