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Syrian prelate sees dangers for Christians, urges West to help stop fighting

Catholic World News - August 16, 2012

Escalating violence in Syria is now threatening the people of Aleppo, reports the city’s Melkite Catholic leader, Archbishop Jean Clement Jeanbart.

Archbishop Jeanbart said that the struggle to oust the Assad regime has attracted support from Islamic groups outside Syria, and “we have fundamentalists coming from Libya, from Jordan, from Egypt, from several other countries.”

The Christians of Aleppo have not been involved in the fighting to date, the archbishop reported, and “we made it clear to everybody that we are not part of this fighting.” But militant Muslims—especially those from outside Syria—view Christians with suspicion, he said. Consequently the Christian population could be at risk. The archbishop pleaded with international leaders to help arrange peace talks. “We’d like to see European countries, the West, do something” to stop the violence, Archbishop Jeanbart said. As a first step, he said, Western countries should “try not to send arms and push people to fight,” but instead encourage them toward the negotiating table.

The archbishop insisted that Christians are not supporting the Assad regime, but simply seeking to avoid further bloodshed and chaos in Syria.

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