Vicar of Aleppo: "moderate" front no better than jihadists, bombing civilians and not seeking peace

Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen says civilians in the city are "under continuous bombardment". In Christian neighborhoods at least four deaths and more than 15 injured. Houses and buildings damaged. Behind the violence are the so-called "moderate opposition groups". Ankara bombing Kurdish positions in Syria and presses (with Riyadh) for ground troops.


Aleppo (AsiaNews) - "We have been under continuous bombardment over the past few days in Aleppo with civilian deaths, injuries and destruction." Last night "in our neighborhoods we had four dead and over 15 injured, in addition to homes and buildings damaged. And these attacks are being carried out by the so-called "moderate opposition groups".

This is the desperate appeal launched by the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo of the Latins, Mons. Georges Abou Khazen, who in a message sent to AsiaNews points his finger at the front defended - and supported - by the West, along with Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

"These bombings - says the prelate - are from the front of the so-called 'moderates', and as such defended, protected and reinforced. In reality are no different from other jihadists [Islamic State (IS) and the Nusra Front] except in name only. "

Meanwhile, fighting around the second most important city of Syria, in the north of the country, has intensified. Since 2012 the city has been divided in two, with the western part under the control of Damascus and the eastern sector under the rebels. The government has condemned the military activities undertaken by Turkey at the weekend against Kurdish guerrillas; which they say is a violation of national sovereignty.

In an official letter sent to the UN Secretary General and the President of the Security Council, Damascus has demanded action against Turkey, which it accuses of supporting "terrorists linked to al Qaeda." Ankara yesterday also launched a massive bombing campaign against Kurdish positions in northern province and reportedly allowed entry through its border to hundreds of fighters considered "Turkish soldiers" or "mercenaries."

The Turkish government considers the militias of the Kurdish Syrian YPG (People’s Security Unit) allies of the outlawed PKK movement (Kurdistan Workers' Party), that aim to create an independent state which would also occupy part of the Turkish territory, in the south-east of the country. This is why it has begun to bomb stations in Syria and also in Iraq, as recently reported to AsiaNews by a Chaldean bishop.

The Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, who in recent days had already reported that "foreign terrorists" and not the Syrians to want to continue the conflict, said that "foreign jihadists have been given the green light to intensify the bombing of civilians."

The prelate believes this escalation masks the desire to "derail the peace negotiations" by “regional forces - for weeks Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been pressing for the sending of ground troops". "Behind this strategy - questions the prelate – is there the desire to prevent the regular army to advance and liberate the region from terrorism and the jihadists?".

Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen appeals "for an ends to these bombings" and encourages both sides to "sit at the negotiating table," so that Syrians "can solve these problems through dialogue among themselves".

The war in Syria flared up in March 2011 as a popular protest against President Bashar al-Assad and turned into widespread conflict with extremist tendencies and Islamic Jihad, so far claiming over 260 thousand lives. It sparked one of the most serious humanitarian crisis in history, forcing 4.6 million Syrians to seek shelter abroad, especially in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Hundreds of thousands have tried to reach Europe,  at times at the cost of their lives crossing the Mediterranean. The total number of displaced persons is around 13.5 million. (DS)

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