The suburbs of Aleppo are currently in the hands of Islamist rebel forces, and have been subjected to days of bombing by Syria's air force as the country's civil war goes into its third year. Bombing around Aleppo has caused at least two hundred more deaths in recent days.
Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo of Syria said, according to the Fides news service, "In the meantime, in the central areas of the city, mortar fire coming from the outlying areas in the hands of the rebels continue, and continue to cause casualties. Sometimes we hear from afar the thunder of the bombing of the army, but we do not have reliable information with regards to the effects of that offensive. The power shortages do not allow you to connect to the internet or watch television. And of course there are no newspapers".
Bishop Audo spoke of the courage of many Syrians who hope for a return to peace and normality. "I have just finished a meeting of coordination with surgeons who have decided to remain in order to assist people across the city who need surgical operations. The work of Caritas continues, and also the pastoral initiatives in view of Christmas. Last week I started a Bible study, and there were more than fifty children. It seems an incredible contradiction. But we try to encourage our Christian people to live concrete initiatives that are also a strong sign of the will not to give up, to continue to hope even in the absurd situation in which we find ourselves. We will not carry out the Christmas vigil at night for security reasons. The liturgical celebration will take place in the afternoon".