“Yesterday during Mass, Aleppo was hit by many missiles; several exploded in our area. A lot of people died and many more were wounded, in addition to the deaths and injuries of the past days.” We keep on receiving messages of this kind from the friars in Aleppo. They are worried, frightened. It’s been a week of blood in Aleppo, where the bombing resumed with more violence after a few days of respite. Missiles fell like rain on the houses that had just been rebuilt; even hospitals were hit. “Twelve dead and a hundred were wounded ”, the friars wrote on Tuesday, “among them there are many Christians.”
A few days ago we received the most worrying news: “During the evening Mass, the first day of the month dedicated to Mary, several missiles fell in the areas of Azizieh and Ram. Meanwhile in Al Ram, Fr. Bassam ofm and the faithful gathered for mass, had to hide into shelters as the city was bombed four times. They had to run to the underground room, after they heard an explosion on the roof. We do not know the damage it caused.”
According to the newspapers there were about 250 deaths and an unknown number of wounded people during the last nine days. The spiral of violence and terror does not stop in Syria. The war in the country has been going on for more than five years, since it started in March 2011. The war has caused at least 270,000 deaths and millions of people are now displaced. The humanitarian emergency that has arisen is among the largest in recent years. Aleppo is at the heart of this clash, where jihadists of the Islamic State and al Nusra Front militants (affiliated with al Qaeda) are fighting against rebel groups and Syrian government forces. The fight is without bonds, and ends up hitting mostly civilians.
The church has become family for the civilians. It is a roof under which they can stay knowing they will always be welcomed. The friars keep on telling us that in Aleppo “there is another battle going on , a battle of hope”. Even this battle “knows no respite.”
It is important for us not to forget Syria, now more than ever. We have to support this battle of hope in any possible way. It is not only their battle, but ours as well.