* Islamic State’s DABIQ magazine (RLPB 369), the latest issue of which targets Christians and Christianity. Titled ‘Break the Cross’, the magazine is sure to fuel anti-Christian hostility in would-be jihadists.
* SYRIA (RLPB 370), where al-Qaeda-led Jaysh el-Fatah broke through government lines and declared its intent to take the jihad into government-controlled western Aleppo. This is home to more than a million loyalist Syrians — i.e. non-Islamist Sunnis, Alawites and some 40,000 mostly Armenian and Assyrian remnant Christians.
UPDATE: On Friday 26 August US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, met in Geneva for nearly ten hours of talks on the Syria crisis. Russia wants America to convince US-backed ‘rebels’ to separate themselves from al-Qaeda affiliates so that al-Qaeda jihadists can be targeted without hitting US-backed ‘rebels’. The US, however, has not been able to do this, and this is hampering US anti-terror efforts and preventing co-operation with Russia in the battle against al-Qaeda.
On Monday 29 August Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, lashed out against the rebels who are preventing UN-funded aid convoys from delivering food into rebel-held eastern Aleppo. The rebels, who know how to fight asymmetrically, want their human shields starving and pitiful for propaganda purposes. Also on 29 August Islamic State confirmed that its spokesman and chief propagandist, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani (39), has been killed in Aleppo. Al-Adnani was the US’ second most-wanted IS figure after al-Baghdadi. May the Lord intervene in Aleppo to ‘frustrate the way of the wicked’ (Psalm 146:9 NIV).
* PRISONERS (RLPB 372): in Algeria, where a Christian has been sentenced to five years in prison for ‘blasphemy’; Iran, where numerous Christians are in prison because of their Christian witness; and Sudan, where four believers — two Nuba pastors, one Darfuri convert and a foreign (Czech) film-maker — are facing national security charges that carry the death penalty.
MORE ARRESTS IN IRAN
Middle East Concern (MEC) reports that on Friday 26 August five believers were arrested as their families picnicked together in Firuzkuh north of Tehran. At around 1:30pm, officers from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) raided the picnic and took the men into detention. The whereabouts of Ramiel Bet Tamraz, Amin Nader Afshar, Hadi Askary, Mohamad Dehnay and Amir Sina Dashti remains unknown. Ramiel Bet Tamra is the son of Assyrian Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz. Pastor Victor and Amin Nader Afshar were arrested over Christmas in December 2014 and released on bail in early 2015 pending trial. There are grave concerns that the 26 August arrests are part of a MOIS campaign to compile ‘evidence’ against Pastor Victor ahead of the trial. Morning Star News notes that 37 Christians were arrested during August alone. The spiritual battle is intensive. Please pray.
TRIAL RESUMES IN KHARTOUM
As World Watch Monitor reports, the trial of the two Nuba pastors, one Darfuri convert and a Czech film-maker resumed on 29 August. The men stand accused of capital crimes associated with what the prosecution refers to as the ‘fabrication’ of ‘false’ stories of Christian persecution and Nuba genocide. Western diplomats and representatives of foreign aid groups attended the hearing. Please pray.