Aleppo archbishop flees as Syria slips towards sectarian war

AFP on Aug. 27 cites Vatican Radio as reporting that the Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop of Aleppo, Jean-Clement Jeanbart, has fled to Lebanon after his offices in the war-ravaged city were ransacked by what a source in the local Christian community called “unidentified groups who want to start a religious war and drag the Syrian people into a sectarian conflict.” Jeanbart told Vatican Radio that he is concerned about the presence of foreign fighters and “jihadists” in Syria. The Telegraph meanwhile reports that the US State Department’s Office of Syrian Opposition Support (OSOS) and the UK Foreign Office have established joint control over an apartment block in Istanbul to coordinate aid to those resisting Bashar Assad’s regime. The US has reportedly set aside $25 million to support the Syrian opposition, while Britain is putting up £5 million. 

The Telegraph also reports that over 300 bodies have been reported found by opposition activists in the Damascus suburb of Daraya, with video footage showing scores of dead laid out in rows under shrouds in the town’s mosque. The bodies were found after shelling of the town for days by government forces. A UK Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, said: “If confirmed, it would be an atrocity of a new scale, requiring unequivocal condemnation from the entire international community.” A presenter on Syrian state TV said: “Our heroic armed forces cleansed Daraya from remnants of armed terrorist groups.”

We note that Anglo-American adventurism in Iraq has ironically created a situation there were Christians are persecuted and targeted for terror. We hope this dynamic is not being replicated in Syria…