Syrian bishops and patriarchs have condemned western arming of Islamists radicals and reject western criticism of Russian intervention
Syrian Christians, both Eastern Rite Catholics as well as Syriac Orthodox, have come out in support of Russia's fight against terrorism in Syria.
Syria's Christians, who consist of several denominations including Orthodox and Catholic, make up around 10% of Syria's population. They have been singled out by ISIL terrorists for oppression and murder. Since ISIL's territorial expansion in Syria and Iraq in 2014, the terrorist group has given Christians few options: if they do not convert to Islam, or pay a special tax, they must leave or be killed.
So far, thousands of Christians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced by the fighting. The US-led coalition, meanwhile, has done little to stop ISIL forces.
According to Al Arabiya, the Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop of Aleppo, Jean-Clement Jeanbart, has said in an interview that Russia's military involvement in the nation has been a source of hope for Christians in the country. Vladimir Putin "serves the Christians' cause", he stated
Prominent Syriac Catholic, the Archbishop of Hassakeh-Nisibi, Jacques Behnan Hindo, also came out in support of Russia:
"US Senator John McCain protested saying that the Russians are not bombing the positions of the Islamic State, but rather the anti-Assad rebels trained by the CIA. I find these words disturbing. They represent a blatant admission that behind the war against Assad there is also the CIA." He continued, "Western propaganda keeps talking about moderate rebels, who do not exist."
Не also said that
"Unfortunately, the United States, France -- yes, France, and England do nothing except add poison to things." Referring to western arming of the opposition, more than half of which come from outside Syria, he added, "The opposition does not want what is good for Syrians, but is rather massacring them."
The Archbishop goes on to criticize US policy in the region. "And when I hear Kerry or Fabius, these people with their fake humanitarian sentiment, I ask myself `what are they doing?'... I do not want to see Fabius, Kerry, or the others. That's why they are screwing around, excuse my expression. They are screwing all Syrians."
While not coming out in full support of Assad, he did state that Assad is certainly more preferable to the opposition, which includes Islamic State, saying that under Assad Christians can "now live much more quietly."
The Archbishop of Hassekeh-Nibisi is not alone in these sentiments towards Western intervention. Syriac Orthodox Patriarch, Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, called on the West to "stop arming and supporting terrorist groups that are destroying our countries and massacring our people."
It remains clear that the intervention by Western nations has caused far more harm than good for Syria's Christians. With that said, the intervention by Russia, in cooperation with the legitimate government of Syria, may very well save Syria's Christians from further destruction, and help restore peace to the Syrian people.
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