Leaders of Christian churches in Syria denounced what they called the “unjust” and “brutal” airstrikes carried out by the United States, the United Kingdom and France against Syrian targets on Friday. In a joint show of force, President Donald Trump ordered the airstrikes in cooperation with America’s allies against sites in Syria suspected of hiding chemical warfare weapons facilities harbored by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A total of 105 missiles targeted chemical weapons facilities in Syria on Friday night.
The Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic Churches were as one in condemning the allied attacks as both pre-emptive and unjust. In a statement, the patriarchs insisted that there was not “sufficient and clear evidence” for the attacks. Since 2011, Syria has witnessed a horrific and violent civil war, which has displaced 10 million people and killed nearly half a million. President Trump has said that he has sought to eliminate the forces of the Islamic State (ISIS), which has persecuted Christians and Yazidis and committed serial murder, rape, and torture.
The patriarchs said that the timing of “this unjustified aggression against Syria, when the independent International Commission for Inquiry was about to start its work in Syria, undermines of the work of this commission.” They said that the airstrikes by the allies were not justified because, they asserted, those countries have not been attacked by Syria, thus constituting a “clear violation of the international laws and the U.N. Charter, because it is an unjustified assault on a sovereign country, member of the U.N.”
The churchmen said that the strikes may have failed to achieve their desired effects, adding that they will encourage terrorists in Syria and thus delay a peaceful solution to the civil war. Also, they called on the U.N. to push for peaceful solutions in Syria. “We offer our prayers for the safety, victory, and deliverance of Syria from all kinds of wars and terrorism. We also pray for peace in Syria and throughout the world, and call for strengthening the efforts of the national reconciliation for the sake of protecting the country and preserving the dignity of all Syrians,” they said.
The statement was signed by John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Joseph Absi, Melkite-Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem.