Syrian Church leaders condemn allied air strike on chemical works

Apr 19, 2018 by

Church of England Newspaper 19 April

SYRIAN CHURCH leaders have condemned air strikes on Syrian chemical factories by the USA, France and the UK.

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, MelkiteGreek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, denounced ‘the brutal aggression’. The air strikes were ordered under the allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.

The leaders said the act ‘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’. They said that the air strikes have caused ‘great pain’ because ‘this assault comes from powerful countries to which Syria did not cause any harm in any way’.

They claimed that 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’.

They explained that the timing of the air strikes, when the independent chemical weapons inspectors were about to start work in Syria ‘undermines the work of this commission’. Meanwhile, a body set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council to examine human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations in Syria, said in a statement last week that as of January 2018, they had reported on 34 documented incidents of the use of chemical weapons there.

The Church leaders warned that aggression ‘destroys the chances for a peaceful political solution and leads to escalation and more complications’.

They are calling on the United Nations Security Council ‘to play its natural role in bringing peace rather than contribute to escalation of wars’. They are also calling on all churches in the countries that participated in the aggression,‘to fulfil 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’.

Meanwhile, the Barnabas Fund is reporting that Christians in Syria fear that an international war will ‘not only devastate the whole Syrian population but could be a catastrophe for the Syrian Christian community and for all Christians in the Middle East.’

Last week the Governing Body of the Church in Wales passed an emergency motion noting ‘with alarm the return to the international agenda of the possibility of heavy bombardment and violent intervention in the situation in Syria’. The vote came ahead of Saturday morning’s raids, but the motion also called on the UK Government to ‘prioritise concerted diplomatic action to secure more peaceful and consensual international responses.”

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