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Syrian Catholic prelate warns West against arming rebels

March 25, 2013

Peace cannot be achieved in Syria by arming the rebel movement, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antonie Audo of Aleppo has warned.

While the US and the European Union are actively supporting the rebels who are fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assadi, the Chaldean bishop—who heads the Syrian branch of the international relief agency Caritas—said that the country’s Christians want reconciliation and peace. A negotiated end to the civil war, he said, would necessarily involve keeping Assad in power “at least until the next elections.”

Christians are already leaving Syria, fearful of the changes that continued violence might bring, Bishop Audo said. In his own city, Aleppo, at least 20,000 Christians have fled, and perhaps as many as 30,000, among a pre-war population of 160,000. Civic order has broken down in the city because of the fighting, he reports, the economy is a shambles, unemployment is 80%, and travel is dangerous.

The conflict in Syria is primarily sectarian, Bishop Audo says, involving a struggle between the Sunni majority and the Alawite minority currently holding political power. That conflict has been aggravated by corruption and economic failure of a one-party ruling regime.


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  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Mar. 26, 2013 1:13 AM ET USA

    Who benefits from a destabilized Syria? What neighboring country will have a good excuse to move in and take over land in Syria claiming it is necessary to defend itself from the Muslims?

  • Posted by: Defender - Mar. 25, 2013 2:54 PM ET USA

    As the Arabs and the CIA support multiple Islamic revolutionary groups (some of whom only trade weapons), all will find in the end either a oermanently divided Syria or a Syria in continuous turmoil. Either way, the remaining Christians must leave or face tragic consequences.