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Bishops forced to flee in Syria

VATICAN (SE): Two bishops in Syria were forced to flee when their homes in Aleppo were ransacked.

Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart sought refuge with Father George Abu Khazen, the pastor of the Latin Rite community in a safer part of the country on August 23.

Fides reported that the Maronite bishop fled to Lebanon when the Free Syrian Army drove through the city after missiles fired from a fighter jet hit a fuel depot in the Bab al-Nayrab area on August 26.

However, one of his assistants returned a few days later when the Syrian military took back control of the area, but reported that their house had been broken into and computers, a projector and various other items were missing.

Fides added that the Museum of Byzantine Christian Art, which is located in the same area, was also ransacked.

Father Khazen told Fides that he cannot see any solution to the conflict, because no one, either locally or internationally, seems to have sufficient clout to pressure either side into beginning a real dialogue.

On August 23, the apostolic nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, told Vatican Radio that he believes that the withdrawal of United Nations (UN) forces was a severe blow to any type of stability being achieved.

“The international community must not give up,” he said. “It must keep trying. The UN military observers left Syria on August 20 after it was clear that the ceasefire they were meant to monitor did not exist.”

On the same day, the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama, warned of the consequences of the use of chemical weapons.

While the nuncio would not comment on the president’s remarks, he said, “At this moment, we must require all sides in the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, which has gone to pieces because of the action of both sides.”


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