Al-Suqaylabiyah, Hama, Syria, May 14, 2019
Six people were murdered and another eight were wounded in a terrorist attack at a monastery in northwestern Syria on Sunday, reports the Christian Broadcasting Network.
It is believed that the attack in Al-Suqaylabiyah was a targeted attack against Christians. The Associated Press reports that among the fatalities were five children ranging in age from 6 to 10, in addition to the children’s Sunday School teacher, who were killed near a monastery during an assault on the town.
Condolences have been offered to His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East by several of his brother primates.
“The kids went out to play after some days of calm,” Fr. Maher Haddad, a local priest, told The Associated Press. “A rocket struck near a group of children, instantly killing five and wounding others… The woman was killed in a nearby street by a separate rocket,” he added. Eight others were also wounded.
According to the AP, the attack was carried out by Syrian rebels, while Syrian troops retaliated by firing at insurgents in the southern Idlib province, which has seen increased violence since April 30. The province is home to 3 million people, though 150,000 have been forced to flee due to the continuous fighting.
Claire Evans, International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The Syrian Civil War is a sad example of the indiscriminate killing of civilians and senseless violence. As the situation escalates in Idlib, many have warned that an increase of targeted massacres would be the result. It has started—with Christians paying a high cost as they are often viewed as vulnerable, second-class citizens. Their villages have become a pawn in a greater strategy for the multiple factions involved in the civil war. We must keep the families of the deceased in our prayers, and offer up continued prayers for the safety of those believers who find themselves caught between Syria's warring sides.”
In a letter dated May 13, His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece wrote to Pat. John, expressing his deep regret upon hearing the news. “Once again, we see the tragic effects of religious hatred that blinds the human mind and makes man desperate, capable of spreading death and sorrow,” he writes, as reports Romfea.
His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria also wrote to Pat. John, saying: “With pain we learned about the tragic incident at the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul… In the days when we sing of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, Who through His death overcame death, evil, and the prince of this world (Jn. 12:31), we pray that our Heavenly Father will receive the souls of the departed.”
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