08/02/2012, 00.00
SYRIA

Media carrying papal message, says nuncio in Damascus

Mgr Mario Zenari highlights the extraordinary nature of state-controlled media broadcasting the pope's words. The country's rulers have come to a dead end and a political solution is urgently needed. A video shows the rebels' ferocity against alleged Assad loyalists.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - "The pope's appeal for a political solution to the Syrian conflict has struck a chord in the Assad government. In the past few days, it has broadcast the pontiff's message on local newspapers and TV stations," Mgr Mario Zenari, Vatican nuncio to Damascus, told AsiaNews. According to the prelate, the extraordinary release of the pope's words shows "that the country's is at a dead end. The war will not have winners and losers." For Mgr Zenari, "a military victory by the government or the rebels would lead Syria to collapse."

The situation of confusion and chaos caused by the war is confirmed by recent reports out of Aleppo and other areas affected by shelling and fighting. In the main cities, rebel forces are barely hanging on under the pressure of the army's offensive. However, Both sides have displayed the same ferocity and violence.

Dramatic images of summary executions and beatings by pro-Assad forces have already appeared. Now, a video was posted online yesterday showing the rebels' own ferocity against an alleged member of the shabiha, the regime's paramilitary militia. Human Rights Watch condemned the act, calling it a possible crime against humanity.

Local sources confirmed allegations that alleged regime loyalists are being slaughtered, targeted by unusually violent attacks. The methods are the same as those of the army.

Today, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights blamed the army for the slaughter of 43 rebels in Jdaidet Artou (Damascus), an action Syrian authorities took responsibility, claiming however that rebels were killed during military operations.

Unedited and unfiltered reports have spread the idea that war against Assad was the only solution, sources explain.

Despite announcements that the regime was on the brink of collapse, its leaders have shown no intention of giving in.

For experts, both sides will continue fighting so long as they get weapons. The conflict could last another year until the country is exhausted and destroyed.

"People are uncertain and fearful of the future," Mgr Zenari noted. "The war is affecting the entire country. Even in Damascus, there is little food, work and security."

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that three million Syrians are in a critical situation. An additional 200,000 found refuge in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

"The political path indicated by the pope is the only solution," the prelate said. "The international community must go back to it and put pressure on rebels and the regime. A serious political compromise is worth more than a senseless and baseless conflict." (S.C.)

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