"The atmosphere is very tense. This morning at 10 armed rebel groups entered the neighborhood of Sheik Maqsoud, in Aleppo, home to many Kurds and Christians and there is intense fighting. In our Christian area in Suleimanye I counted 18 loud explosions. Groups of rebels entered in other Christian areas such as Jabrie and therefore life for the civilian population, in the crossfire, is in serious danger ": So said Fr. Jules Baghdassarians, a Greek-Catholic priest in Aleppo and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Syria. This came as forces opposed to the Assad regime have announced the "final battle in Aleppo."
Fr. Baghdassarians explained to the Fides news service, "Innocent civilians continue to die: yesterday an Armenian Christian mother and her 6 year old daughter were killed, while the father is seriously injured in hospital. Few days ago we counted 15 victims in our Greek-Catholic community. we have not had any electricity for two days: this is a consequence of the fighting. Armed groups hide in buildings: the population is terrorized," says the priest.
According to the priest, "there is a real humanitarian emergency: thousands of refugees are crowded into schools and Christian priests of all denominations take care of them, they bring food and give assistance. Christians are mobilized mainly for humanitarian work, bringing aid to the refugees who are mostly Muslim families "
The National Director launches an urgent appeal: "We ask the world a jolt of consciousness: stop the war, stop the trade in arms, grant us peace. As the Pope said, the only possible way to put an end to bloodbath in Syria is reconciliation."
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.