05/24/2012, 00.00
SYRIA
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Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo: foreign forces do not want peace in Syria

Foreign militants from Libya, Tunisia, Turkey and Pakistan present in the country. Msgr. Nazzaro: they arrived in Syria to create chaos. Christians and Muslims live and face the pain of war together.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) - "There are foreign forces who do not want peace in Syria. The country is now the prey of fighters from Tunisia, Libya, Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic states. Weapons and money are pouring across the borders to feed the spiral of violence", Msgr. Giuseppe Nazzaro, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo tells AsiaNews. "The Western countries are not doing anything concrete to stop the conflict - he continues - they do not care about the fate of the Syrian people, who in addition to the war between the army and rebels also suffer an economic embargo." Msgr. Nazzaro says that medicines, fuel, gas are beginning to run out across the country. In the provinces most affected by the fighting, basic necessities are lacking and it is difficult for the population to survive, especially if this tense situation continues for much longer.

The bishop says that the Islamic extremists continue to shoot and carry out attacks and have no interest in seeking a way out of the conflict. "Who is funding these militias? - asks the prelate - after the imposition of the cease-fire on 12 April, there were constant attacks targeted against which the army sadly responds with equal cruelty."

For the past three weeks the Assad military have bombed the city of Rastan situated between Homs and Hama, the main stronghold of Islamist rebels. Opposition sources speak of 33 deaths over the past two days. There are also reports of abuses against the Christian community in the area. On 10 May in the village of Al Borj Al Qastal, not far from Hama, ten families were expelled by foreign fighters who used their homes for military purposes. Yesterday, some returned, after the area returned under the control of the Syrian army.

Bishop Nazzaro confirms that the struggle for control of the country is between the Alawites, a Shi'ite religious minority to which the Assad family belongs, and Sunni extremists. The clashes are mainly concentrated in areas where there is the largest presence of foreign militants.

In these days the conflict between the two religious factions has crossed the border into Lebanon. In Beirut there have been several clashes between the two communities, which have forced an army intervention. Today, hundreds of Shiites blocked roads in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley on the border with Syria, to protest against the kidnapping in Aleppo of 14 Lebanese pilgrims returning from Iran.

In the provinces not yet dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, the situation is calmer and dissent against the regime is still more pacifist. "I just finished my pastoral visit to a parish - said Bishop - Christians do not have problems there and they can try to help the local Islamic communities. Muslims, Sunnis and Shiites Syrians, who respect them and have no reason to attack them" .

Meanwhile, in Damascus, the parliament created by the first ever general elections on May 7, today held its first meeting. Members were sworn-in to "defend the interests of the people' and democracy in the four years of their mandate. Boycotted by opposition parties, the ballot was won by the coalition dominated by the Baath party, linked to the Assad regime, which won 183 of the 250 seats. (S.C.)

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