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Asia

2012-11-23

ASIA/SYRIA - Christians in high Mesopotamia refuse to take up arms. Bishops' appeal to the Pope and the leaders of Nations: avoid the catastrophe that is upon us

Kamishly (Agenzia Fides) - An urgent appeal to the Pope, the UN Secretary General and the Heads of State so that catastrophe that threatens Syrian populations of high Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and the Euphrates is avoided. This appeal is launched, through Fides, by three Bishops of the region at the end of three days of fasting in which Christians in the area have asked the Lord for the gift of peace.
Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, owner of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy of Hassaké-Nisibis, from the parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Kamishly describe to Fides Agency a situation on the brink of precepice: "In past days, the Salafis entered Ras al Ain. From there 30 thousand people fled, which were added to the already 400 thousand refugees from Deir el Zor, Homs and Aleppo. Now they and those of the Free Syrian Army, on the Turkish border, may head towards the province of Jazira, urban centers of Hassaké and Kamishly. If they do, the army of Assad will start bombing, just as what happened in Ras al Ain. It will be a slaughter, and there will be another 800 thousand people forced to flee, not knowing where."
The Archbishop, in coordination with the other Bishops - the Syrian Orthodox and Assyrian - and with local leaders of other ethnic and religious communities, is engaged in feverish efforts of mediation to prevent new tragedies to his people. "We Christians – Mgr. Hindo told Fides - along with all the other Arab and Kurdish components, have sent letters both to those of the Free Syrian Army and the Salafist groups, asking them not to start their offensive. Their response so far has been: we are waiting for our leaders orders. To prevent this, we have sent our urgent appeal to Benedict XVI and the Leaders of nations, asking them to put pressure so that armed groups do not come in our region. I hope that the Pope says something during at the Angelus on Sunday."
The roads connecting the high Mesopotamia in Damascus, Homs and Aleppo, are interrupted. In the city also electricity comes and goes. In this condition, the local components have created popular committees to maintain security in neighborhoods and manage the ovens that produce bread for the refugees. Archbishop Hindo confirms to Fides that the popular committees have so far refused to take up arms and become self-defense militias. "I – Mgr. Hindo told Fides – was also proposed to distribute 700 arms in Hassake and thousands in Kamishly. I refused categorically, like all Christians here. The popular committees are not armed and do not have anything to do with the government." (GV) (Agenzia Fides 23/11/2012).

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