CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Pleas to end slaughter of civilians in northern Syria

AMMAN (CNS): Churches in Afrin, Syria, are calling on the world to stop the slaughter of civilians resulting from assaults by the Turkish military on Kurdish areas.
 
“We ask you to pray for us and for our city which, before a couple of days ago, was full of life, but today is not,” Reverend Saeed Daoud (a pseudonym) pleaded. 
 
“The brutal attack of the Turkish military with extremist Islamic groups has been carried out, without any warning,” he told said, referring to Turkey’s relentless shelling and ground offensive which began on January 20.
 
Another religious leader wrote: “We are asking for intervention and protection against the violent attacks which are being levied against us at this moment.
 
“Many lives are in mortal danger,” Reverend Hakim Ismael wrote. 
 
“We are unable to protect ourselves or our families against these attacks, neither are we able to offer assistance or shelter to the innocents. Please help us,” he said.
 
The city of Afrin, located in a Kurdish-controlled area of northwestern Syria, is approximately 48 kilometres from Aleppo.
 
Father Emanuel Youkhana, an archimandrite of the Assyrian Church of the East, said, “With the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq and the final phase of its defeat in Syria, we prayed and hoped to move forward in a new phase of reconciliation and rebuilding the life toward a future where all people—Christians, Muslims, Yezidis, Kurds, Arab, Assyrians and all—may live in dignity and justice.”
 
He said, “We are shocked by another brutal and violent attack on the people in Afrin. Here again, the innocent civilians are paying the price for political interests under the pretext of fighting against the terrorist.” 
 
Father Youkhana, who runs Christian Aid Programme Northern Iraq, which helps displaced Iraqis around the city of Dahuk, added, “The Turkish military operations against Kurdish and Christian people of the Afrin region cannot be justified. The civilians cannot be attacked under any claim.” He called for an immediate end to the military operations and immediate aid to the people.
 
“Attacking (those) who fought ISIS is shocking and questionable action,” he said. “We pray for decision makers to work for peace. Battle cannot be a path to peace.”
 
Afrin has only four hospitals, now packed with “injured people and wounded innocent children,” Reverend Daoud said, adding that there are several reported cases of women who miscarried “due to shock and fear.”
 
The Robar Refugee Camp, which accomodates 600 displaced Syrians from the Aleppo countryside, was bombed and camp residents have appealed to the United Nations to intervene to stop the shelling.

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