Damascus (Agenzia Fides) – His Beatitude Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, organized a reception to mark the start of the new year where all the diplomats accredited to the Arab Republic of Syria were invited. The reception was held yesterday at the patriarchal seat, in the district of Bab Tuma, the area of the Old City of Damascus. The reception was attended, among others, by Archbishop Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus, along with the ambassadors of Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Brazil and Venezuela. During his speech to diplomats accredited to the government of Damascus, Patriarch Mar Ignatius Aphrem reiterated that terrorism and the ongoing war in Syria are fed from the outside, and has renewed his appeal for international support towards the Syrian people.
In recent days, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch had gone to Qamishli, in the northeastern Syrian governorate of Hassakè, to carry out a reconciliatory mediation between the Kurdish militias and self-defense Sootoro groups, formed mainly of Syrian and Assyrian Christians, who on January 11 had clashed due to a control at a checkpoint (see Fides 12/01/2016). On that occasion, the Kurdish attack on the checkpoint presided by Sootoro militiamen provoked a firefight, which lasted an hour, during which the Assyrian militant David Gabriel was killed and some Kurdish soldiers were wounded. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 20/01/2016)