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Civilians in Idlib fear offensive by Syrian forces

AMMAN (CNS): Christians and other civilians inside Idlib, Syria, are fearful of an impending, all-out offensive by their government and its Russian and Iranian backers on the last rebel stronghold in a presumed endgame in Syria’s more than seven-year-old war. 
 

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Syriac Catholic young people celebrate their faith

BEIRUT (CNS): Driven by zeal and strong ties to the roots of their faith, 450 young people from all over the world gathered in Lebanon for the first Syriac Youth International Convention, open to people between 18 and 35 years of age.
 

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Pope denounces deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Francis condemned the use of chemical weapons after the deadly April 7 attack by Syrian army warplanes that killed dozens of innocent men, women and children in Douma, Syria.
 
“There is no good and bad war, and nothing, nothing can justify the use of such instruments of extermination against defenseless people and populations,” the pope said before concluding Divine Mercy Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 8.
 

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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. 
 

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Mideast patriarchs express hope in the midst of uncertainty

BEIRUT (CNS): In their Christmas messages, the Catholic patriarchs of the Middle East—with hope, despite uncertainty in the region—called for peace, security, prayer and solidarity. 
 
From Baghdad, Iraq, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, expressed his hope for a new phase for the country and that the recent triumph over the Islamic State, along with the termination of terrorist control of Mosul and other cities, will marked a step toward security and stability. 
 

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Summer camps without bombs

ALEPPO (SE): The summer months in northern Iraq this year saw a special treat for some 860 young people who took up the offer to take part in two months of activities held by the Church in Aleppo.
 
For many of the younger ones it was not only the first time to have the freedom to join such a camp, but their first summer without the sound of bombs exploding in the background.
 

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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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