Damascus, Syria, April 21, 2014
In comments to mark Easter, Patriarch John Yazigi called on the warring sides to end the practice of "intimidation, displacement, extremism and takfiri mentality," a term for Islamic extremists. Such radicals have become increasingly influential among rebels, attacking Christians who they see as infidels and partly as punishment for what they consider Christians' support for President Bashar Assad.
Yazigi's message was carried by Syria's official news agency late Saturday.
Christians represent about five per cent of Syria's population. Assad's forces and rebels trying to overthrow him are locked in a civil war in which more than 150,000 people have been killed.