Alep (AsiaNews) - "Alep University is full of Libyan and Turkish infiltrators who have been trying to sway young Syrians to their cause. These people are armed and they provoked the army, which responded with force," said Mgr Giuseppe Nazaro, apostolic vicar in Alep, who spoke to AsiaNews about the assault by security forces against the university residences that claimed the lives of four students.
The Franciscan prelate lives only 150 metres from the university and saw Wednesday's assault with his own eyes after more than 1,500 students demonstrated against the regime. According to eyewitness accounts, soldiers chased the students into the university residences and arrested more than 200 people. To avoid further incidents, the authorities shut down the university until the end of the academic year.
"Alep is the only city that did not rise against Assad," the bishop said. "There have been some demonstrations in the past few months, but people do not want violence."
"Islamic militants have tried to push young people to engage in inconsiderate and dangerous behaviour in order to create a climate of violence and chaos in our city. This threatens everyone," Mgr Nazaro explained.
Since the clashes two days ago, Alep has lived in an atmosphere of tension and violence.
More than 40,000 students from around the country attend the city's university. Many of them cannot go home because of the war.
Convents and parish churches have opened their doors to hundreds of them. "Our residence has given shelter to 20 women, both Christian and Muslim, who fled the university residences after the army's raid. They joined another 40 female students who live in our dormitory."
Sadly, the situation is getting out of hand, according to the apostolic vicar. Turkey, Libya and other Muslim countries are sending militants and weapons to sustain the war against Assad. This has created an impossible situation for a ceasefire and reconciliation.
"Ordinary people are paying the price. Sooner or later, they will not be able to stand this climate of violence and the economic crisis," the prelate added.
Most reports on Western media are false or fabricated, he contends. "Newspapers and news agencies rely only on reports from al Jazeera and other Arab media funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia who are the main backers of Syrian rebels. Their only interest is to create chaos until the Assad regime falls."
After a year of fighting, the death toll from the war between the Syrian regime and the Free Syrian Army now stands at 9,000 with tens of thousands of people displaced, UN sources report.
Instead, Syrian authorities say that 3,838 people are dead as a result of the violence, 2,493 civilians and 1,345 soldiers and security forces personnel.
Meanwhile, the UN observer mission in Syria continues its work after a ceasefire between the regime and the rebels came into effect on 12 April.
Yesterday, as violence continues across the country despite the truce, Gen Mood Robert, head of the UN mission, called on Syrian forces to be the first to cease their fire.
Still, the presence of observers is having a positive effect, this according to Neeraj Singh, UN mission spokesman in Damascus. The government, he said, is in fact giving the 50 UN monitors a certain leeway to move around.