CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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Tell it to the Marines

HONG KONG (SE): The media service of the Islamic State, Al-’Amaq, reported that the United States of America (US) accidentally bombed an aid convoy at a barracks used by the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo on September 19 when it confused it with an Islamic State stronghold.

The US maintains that the Russians did it, but the Russian Defence Ministry denies all allegations that it was responsible for the attack and the United Nations has changed its story, indicating that it may not have been an air raid at all, but ground level sabotage.

However, Bishop Georges Abu Khazen said that no one in the war-torn city believes any of them.

In colloquial language, the Latin rite bishop of Aleppo said that they can go tell it to the Marines, as he believes that the attack is just one more indication of the US ambivalence towards Syria.

“That air strike, which killed at least 90 soldiers, seems to confirm the ambiguity of the US choices in the Syrian scenario and even the suspicions of those who say that the US created the Islamic State and are using it,” Bishop Khazen told Fides.

“With all the tools and weapons at their disposal, that air raid could not have been an accident, since that barracks was not there yesterday,” he continued.

On May 26, Aid to the Church in Need in Malta reported Bishop Khazen as saying, “The Russian intervention has unmasked the comedy of the American intervention. When the Americans and their allies bombed, Islamic State continued to expand until it took over up to 50 per cent of the country.”

The 69-year-old bishop added, “As soon as the Russians began to bomb, Islamic State was finally forced to retreat from the occupied territories.”

Bishop Khazen insisted, “For us, the arrival of the Syrian army signifies liberation. Where it takes control, life begins again.”

He accused the west of not understanding the nature of the conflict in Syria nor the reason why so many people are fleeing the zone today.

“You Europeans should finally understand: If there is peace here in Syria, then you have no more refugee problem. You must know; Syria has not produced refugees in the past—we received refugees from other countries. So if you Europeans really want to solve the refugee problem, then reconsider your Middle East policy and work for peace in Syria,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Samir Nassar, the Maronite archbishop of Damascus, told Aid for the Church in Need on September 21 that one third of his priests have now left his diocese for safer destinations.

However, he pointed out that as time goes by, the war is putting more and more pressure on families, to the point where they can no longer survive.

“It is the men that go to war and often times die,” he says, explaining that has led to many fatherless families and the coining of the expression, A fatherless child is not an orphan, because the mothers are so strong.

But he says that now the young men that would probably have migrated and then invited their families to follow are being pressured into the army by the General Mobilisation Decree in October last year, leaving older ones and younger brothers and sisters stranded.

The other problem is there is no one for young women to marry, leaving the population to shrink and the Church as well, as with no people there is no Church.

This has left the archbishop asking himself if the remnant of his Church is to become the guardian of rocks, pebbles and stones.

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