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Gratitude for pope’s message to Assad

DAMASCUS (AsiaNews): Local media gave wide and enthusiastic support to a message from Pope Francis to the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, which was delivered by the nuncio to Syria, Mario Cardinal Zenari, on December 12.

Archbishop Georges Abou Khazen, the Latin rite vicar of Aleppo, described the papal gesture as being an historic act, a sign of hope for everyone and a confirmation of the attention the pope is paying to Syria and its people.

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Papal appeals to Assad

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis sent a personal appeal to the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, for “an end to the violence and the peaceful resolution of hostilities.”

Delivered on December 12 by the nuncio to Syria, Mario Cardinal Zenari, Vatican Radio reported that he told Assad that the recent honour of being made a cardinal accorded him is a sign that “the Holy Father sought to show a particular sign of affection for the beloved Syrian people.”

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Truth long dead media victim

HONG KONG (SE): “I think that those who control the information in the west have a political agenda,” Bishop Antoine Audo SJ, the director of Caritas Syria, said in an interview with Vatican Radio.

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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.

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Beijing supports Assad’s military

BEIJING (AsiaNews): The Chinese army will offer training in medical care to the Syrian military of Bashar Assad, which has been engaged for over five years in a civil war.

The Chinese Defence Ministry announced on August 25, “After consultations between the two armies... it was decided that the Chinese military will provide the Syrian side with professional medical and nursing training.”

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Syrian voice at Youth Day

KRAKOW (Agencies): Staying sane, let alone being happy in the face of non-stop death and violence that has become part of everyday life in the Middle East can be a bit of a challenge, but Rand Mittri, from the ravaged city of Aleppo in Syria, said in a testimony at World Youth Day in Krakow that she is able to face each day with joy.

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Syrian children pray for peace

ALEPPO (AsiaNews): To mark International Children’s Day on June 1 a special prayer was organised at the Franciscan parish in Aleppo, Syria, in which both Catholic and Orthodox children joined together in a prayer for peace.

Father Alsabagh Ibrahim described the prayer service as being the most beautiful response possible to the violence of war and fundamentalism in a city that has been under heavy bombardment for weeks.

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Catholic Russian Orthodox project

MOSCOW (AsiaNews): The plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East has become the focus of the first concrete act of cooperation between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches following the historic meeting in Havana between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow on February 12.

The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church announced that the Moscow patriarchate and the Vatican will join forces to help restore churches in Syria.

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Refugees want peace so they can go home

SADAD (SE): Christian families that had fled from Syria to Europe to escape the violence of conflict are beginning to drift back, the mayor of Sadad in the province of Homs, Suleiman al-Khalil, told Russian media on April 6.

“Christians who had left Syria for Europe are beginning to return to Sadad and also to other cities,” Khalil said.

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A Good Samaritan up to his neck in water

MELBOURNE  (Agencies): Simon Lewis, the 32-year-old captain of the St. Kilda Surf Lifesaving Club at a popular beach in inner Melbourne, Australia, returned home on January 25 after spending 10 days as a Good Samaritan up to his neck in water helping refugees in the treacherous crossing between Turkey and the Greek islands, a well-worn route for people fleeing Syria.

SBS reported that he was inspired after being confronted with images of children who had drowned trying to reach Europe.

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