News brief from the CNS (Catholic News Service) 19/09/2013
Christians in Syria are continuing to be targeted by outside fundamentalist groups who have joined the country's long civil war, said the head of the Syriac Catholic Church in Jerusalem. Bishop Boutros Melki, Syriac Catholic patriarchal vicar, told Catholic News Service Sept. 18 that Christians fear that the situation in Syria will become like that in Iraq, where half the Christian population has fled since the American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In an interview after returning from Montreal, where he met with Syriac Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan, the bishop said the historic city of Maaloula, with its ancient churches and monasteries, became the site of fighting between rebel and government forces. Attacks against churches and Christian homes occurred and Christian icons and crosses were destroyed and defamed, he said. "We can't accuse anybody, but when we know about such actions we ask ourselves what does all this mean and why?" he said. "We always remember what happened in Iraq. Unfortunately, Iraq is still in a bloody nightmare."