The ancient Christian communities of Syria have been almost decimated during the past five years due to attacks from rebel groups operating in Syria, both “moderate” ones funded by the United States and extreme ones opposed by the United States like ISIS. The aim of all rebel groups is to depose Assad. In an internal conflict where there is no clear “good guy” or “bad guy” but rather everyone operates in shades of gray, we as a nation must be extremely careful.
One of my seminary classmates was kidnapped five years ago by one of these rebel groups who oppose Assad. I find it so difficult to process the fact that the men who kidnapped (and probably murdered) my friend could have potentially been funded by the United States.
Time and history will tell us whether yesterday’s actions by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France were the correct ones, in the mean time it is important to listen to those living in Syria who continue to suffer tremendously. If Assad did use chemical weapons on his people, I hope the facilities where these are manufactured were destroyed yesterday. Unfortunately escalation in Syria means greater animosity between us and Russia and Iran, both which support Assad. God save us from another world war, which as Pope Francis has alluded, may have already begun.
A statement Issued by the Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic. Following is the text of the statement:
Damascus, 14 April 2018
God is with us; Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves!
We, the Patriarchs: John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Joseph Absi, Melkite-Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, condemn and denounce the brutal aggression that took place this morning against our precious country Syria by the USA, France and the UK, under the allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. We raise our voices to affirm the following:
This brutal aggression is a clear violation of the international laws and the UN Charter, because it is an unjustified assault on a sovereign country, member of the UN.
It causes us great pain that this assault comes from powerful countries to which Syria did not cause any harm in any way.
The allegations of the USA and other countries that the Syrian army is using chemical weapons and that Syria is a country that owns and uses this kind of weapon, is a claim that is unjustified and unsupported by sufficient and clear evidence.
The timing of this unjustified aggression against Syria, when the independent International Commission for Inquiry was about to start its work in Syria, undermines of the work of this commission.
This brutal aggression destroys the chances for a peaceful political solution and leads to escalation and more complications.
This unjust aggression encourages the terrorist organizations and gives them momentum to continue in their terrorism.
We call upon the Security Council of the United Nations to play its natural role in bringing peace rather than contribute to escalation of wars.
We call upon all churches in the countries that participated in the aggression, to fulfill their Christian duties, according to the teachings of the Gospel, and condemn this aggression and to call their governments to commit to the protection of international peace.
We salute the courage, heroism and sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army which courageously protects Syria and provide security for its people. We pray for the souls of the martyrs and the recovery of the wounded. We are confident that the army will not bow before the external or internal terrorist aggressions; they will continue to fight courageously against terrorism until every inch of the Syrian land is cleansed from terrorism. We, likewise, commend the brave stand of countries which are friendly to the Syria and its people.
We offer our prayers for the safety, victory, and deliverance of Syria from all kinds of wars and terrorism. We also pray for peace in Syria and throughout the world, and call for strengthening the efforts of the national reconciliation for the sake of protecting the country and preserving the dignity of all Syrians.