President Bashar al-Assad received the recently-elected Patriarch of the Melkites, Yusuf al-Abssi, in Damascus, Syria, yesterday, 4th July 2017.
The patriarchy traces its origin directly back to the See of Antioch, founded by St. Peter himself, one year after Our Blessed Lord’s crucifixion, and has its seat in Damascus. There are roughly 1.6 million Melkite Catholics throughout the world.
“Two prominent Catholic leaders in Syria have criticised the US missile strikes against their nation, wondering why they occurred before investigations into the origins of chemical attacks reported earlier this week……
….. Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan called the attack an aggression and told Catholic News Service: ‘It is a shame that the United States administration didn’t wait until an honest United Nations investigation was thoroughly made into what is said to be a chemical air strike in Khan Shaykun’.
‘The agglomerate media and the supremacist policy of the USA just want the killing and destroying conflict in Syria to continue, and this primarily to kill whatever attempt to resolve the bloody crisis,’ added Patriarch Younan, who was born in Syria and served for 14 years as bishop of the New Jersey-based Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance for Syriac Catholics in the United States and Canada.
Bishop Georges Khazen, who serves Latin-rite Catholics in Aleppo, told the Rome-based Fides news agency that he was baffled by ‘the speed with which it was decided and carried out, without any adequate investigation into the tragic massacre with chemical weapons which took place in Idlib province.’
He said the attack ‘opens new disturbing scenarios for all.‘ ……
….. Syrian officials called the attack a ‘blatant aggression,’ and the General Command of the Syrian army said it ‘confirms the continuation of the wrong American strategy and restricts the counterterrorist operation that the Syrian army is conducting.’
The Syrian state news agency SANA reported nine civilians, including four children, were killed in the US attack. SANA said the civilians died in villages near the airbase and that seven more people were wounded. It was not clear whether this figure included any of the six dead announced by the Syrian army earlier.
Patriarch Younan, who said he passed Shayrat Air Base after the strike, en route to celebrate a funeral in Hafar, noted the US was accusing Syria – a UN member – of using chemical weapons, but had not investigated the charge.
‘The Syrian army was fighting successfully to end the bloody conflict going on for long. It did not need any military intervention that would be condemned by international agencies, such as using chemicals,’ he said. He added that Christians would suffer the consequences, and the final results of displacement and persecution would not be known for decades.
After the chemical attack was reported, Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo told Fides that although he understood things were not always what they seemed, he could not imagine the Syrian government ‘is so naive and ignorant to be able to do such errors.’ …..
….. ‘Two days ago, US President Donald Trump said that Assad is part of the solution of the Syrian problem. Now he makes statements that say the contrary,’ Bishop Audo told Fides. ‘There are interests of regional powers involved in the war. We should always take this into account, especially when certain things are repeated with similar dynamics, and trigger the same reactions and the same effects already experienced in the past.’ ”
ALEPPO: THE TRUTH THAT THE WESTERN MEDIA REFUSES TO REPORT
This morning we visited the main IDP Registration centre at Jibrin, for Internally Displaced Persons from East Aleppo. They are registered here for humanitarian reasons and access to services, before they go either to relatives in other parts of Syria if they have them (many do), or to other reception centres where they are provided with accommodation, food and other services. During the past two weeks they have registered 95,000 refugees, but estimate there may be a further 10,000 who have not registered. There were thousands of people there who have arrived within the last couple of days. Let me make clear that we visited in a taxi without Government or Army accompaniment, and without prior notice. We were not expected.
The Centre is well organised. The Syrian Red Crescent have tents available that offer information about all social welfare facilities available, and offer free medical attention. In cases of emergency, ambulances are on hand to transport patients to hospital. Free food is being distributed by the Syrian Red Crescent and the Syrian Army, and we saw a convoy of Russian lorries providing aid. There is also a Russian field hospital on site which offers immediate medical treatment.
The sense of relief amongst the thousands of refugees is palpable. All were keen to talk, and we interviewed several who had arrived only yesterday and today. They all said the same thing. They said that they had been living in fear. They reported that the fighters have been telling everyone that the Syrian Army would kill anyone who fled to the West, but had killed many themselves who tried to leave – men, women and children. One woman broke down in tears as she told how one of her sons was killed by the rebels a few days ago, and another kidnapped. They also killed anyone who showed signs of supporting the Government. The refugees said that the ‘rebels’ told them that only those who support them are “true Muslims”, and that everyone else are ‘infidels’ and deserve to die.
They told us they had been given very little food: that any aid that reached the area was mostly refused to them or sold at exorbitant prices. Likewise, most had been given no medical treatment. (A doctor who has been working with the refugees for weeks told me last night that in an area recently liberated, a warehouse filled with brand new internationally branded medicines had been discovered.) Most of the refugees said they had had members of their families killed by the rebels and consistently spoke of widespread murder, torture, rape and kidnap by the rebels. They said if anyone left their homes, their properties and belongings were confiscated and stolen.
One old man in a wheelchair who was being given free treatment in the Russian Field Hospital said he had been given no treatment for three years despite asking. He said: “Thank God we are free. We now have food. We can now live our lives. God bless the Syrian Army.” They all said they were glad to be out and to be free. All the refugees without exception were visibly without exception clearly profoundly relieved and happy to be free. One woman said: “This is heaven compared to what we have been living.” We asked if the Syrian Army had ill-treated anyone. They said never. One woman said: “They helped us to escape and they provide us with food and assistance.”
I therefore have two key questions:
1. It is now only the Syrian Red Crescent, the Syrian Army, and the Russians who are providing humanitarian aid to the tens of thousands who have fled East Aleppo. Why are none of the international agencies offering to help them now?
2. Why is it, given that stories about massacres by the Syrian Army are headline news worldwide, and several international media units are in Aleppo, that there is not one international media agency actually at the Registration Centre talking to the refugees themselves? We were the only ones there. Here are people who have lived through it who are keen to talk, yet the media take at face value unverifiable claims by highly dubious sources. The collapse of any form of reliable investigative journalism in a context of global significance is utterly shocking.
The refusal of the western media to report objectively, or to seekinformed information from the thousands of civilians from East Aleppo who are keen to share their stories, whilst granting full credibility to terrorists without any on the ground verifiable information on their claims, is nothing short of obscene.
Everything that I have seen and heard in Aleppo; from civilians in East and West from all communities, and from talking with doctors, faith communities and with Army people as well, and witnessing and risking bombardments on both sides, convinces me that the reports in the western media are twisted fabrications of the horrors that are happening in ‘rebel’ controlled areas. And still, the media refuses to listen to the witness of the people themselves.
Postscript: Christmas is coming in Syria. In a country and a city in which people of all faiths are free to worship; where mosques and Churches stand side by side; and where Christmas music is playing in cafes and restaurants. And yet the world is mourning the defeat in Aleppo of extremists who destroy Christian and Muslim places of worship, and slaughter any who do not follow their obscene ideology.
Pictured above: CNN’s favourite ‘independent film maker’ American Jihadist and Al-Qaeda member Bilal Abdul Kareem, interviewing Sheikh Abdullah Muhaysini, leader of Jaish al Fatah: Saudi educated and funded, trainer of child suicide bombers, judge and executioner of ‘apostates’, Chief of Head-Choppers and Mass Murderer.
UK visas: YES to radical Islamists, NO to Christian archbishops!
It is hard to imagine a more incongruous headline – just as the world’s attention focuses on the liberation of Mosul, the UK government has refused to grant a visa to the Archbishop of Mosul to attend the consecration of the UK’s first Syriac Orthodox cathedral, a church whose flock includes many refugees fleeing persecution from Islamists in Iraq and Syria………..
……….. Yet, at the same time this is happening, radical Islamist leaders are being told they can have visas – even though they represent organisations or movements that incite violence and persecution against Christians.