Homs (Agenzia Fides) - The 800 civilians trapped in Homs are caught between the crossfire, unable to get out, exploited in the conflict, now used as human shields: is the alarm that reaches Fides Agency by representatives of the local Church committed to seeking a solution for the salvation of their lives. A faction of the rebel army holed up in the city does not want them to evacuate to avoid the Syrian army to take favorable positions with military means. As reported to Fides by the Orthodox Christian priest Fr. Boutros Al Zein, "among them there are about 400 Christian civilians, mostly elderly and women, victims of authentic kidnapping, blocked in the streets of Al Bustan Diwan and Hamidiyyeh. Civilians – he explains - were collected and directed towards the border of these two streets, becoming human shields to prevent the attack of regular Syrian forces. "
In recent days, two Orthodox Christian priests, Fr. Maximos Al Jamal and Fr. Boutros Al Jamal, tried to negotiate to free the hostages, but the initiative failed. Now the Syrian army has officially said to "allow the evacuation of civilians, without preconditions" and that it has established an exit lane. The Syrian Foreign Ministry said he had "ordered the governor of Homs to provide the output of all citizens from areas of conflict." Local Church leaders call on all armed groups " not to use innocent civilians, to facilitate their evacuation, to respect their lives and their freedom." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/6/2012)