Aleppo (AsiaNews) - "The Holy Father's closeness and his comfort of the Syrian people, instills hope in our hearts. His words remind all Syrian Catholics to pray for peace and reconciliation between Sunnis and Alawites", says Msgr. Boutros Marayati, Armenian-Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo. The prelate says the Pope's message yesterday during the Angelus has already been translated into Arabic and in the coming days will be published throughout the various parishes and dioceses in the country.
The Archbishop points out that in these days of war, the population is afraid and feels helpless in the face of ongoing violence between rebels of the Free Syrian Army and the military. For Christians, the only gesture that still inspires hope is prayer. "We asked our faithful to fast - he says - and to offer their sufferings for peace and dialogue".
The situation in the city, the hub of the Syrian economy, is worsening day by day. Since yesterday evening Bashar al-Assad's army has been laying siege to neighborhoods in the north controlled by the rebels. This morning Assad's army conquered the district of Salaheddine, controlled by the guerrillas of the FSA. The unrest has killed at least 168.
AsiaNews sources say that Aleppo became a ghost town since the beginning of the offensive. The silence is only broken by mortar fire and the aerial bombardment. The population is exhausted and lives barricaded in their homes, even in neighborhoods untouched by the fighting. "There is nothing left in the city we are running out of everything - sources refer - there is no water, food is scarce and there are no medicines. There is a real risk of a humanitarian catastrophe".
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the country to seek refuge in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. According to the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the displaced are at least 200 thousand and their numbers are still rising. Yesterday, the Jordanian government opened a new refugee camp in Zaaratri a few kilometers from the Syrian border. To date, over 130 thousand people, mostly women and children, have found refuge in the kingdom. (SC)