04/10/2018, 10.49
SYRIA
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Vicar of Aleppo warns that world powers are seeking a 'pretext' to destroy Syria

A harsh exchange between Russia and the United States at the UN. Trump speaks of possible intervention, with the support of London and Paris. Moscow denounces the "campaign of aggression" against a sovereign state. Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen: "there are no certainties" on the Douma attack. The prayers of Christians for peace in the country.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - The latest developments in the war in Syria show that "no one  is willing to  leave this country in peace"; on the contrary, regional actors and world powers "seem to be increasingly bent on finding a pretext to launch even harsher interventions and to prolong fighting". These are the words of the Latin Rite Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen, commenting on the escalation of tension following the attack on Douma, the last rebel bastion in eastern Ghouta, on the suburbs of the capital.

Opposition sources denounce the use of chemical weapons; Damascus strongly denies the accusations. Meanwhile, at the UN there a rift has widened between the United States and Russia, which risks degenerating into open conflict on the ground.

Referring to Douma, the prelate recalls how "Syria is asking the UN Security Council to send a commission of inquiry". However, he adds, the powers of the anti-Assad block [United States, United Kingdom, France] want to adopt an iron fist and do not seem willing to "accept any compromise".

US President Donald Trump is considering the possibility of attacking Syria. A decision should arrive within the next 24, 48 hours at most. The United States intends to prepare a "strong response" to what they call a "barbaric act" by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad against the population of Douma.

According to opposition sources [but there is no independent confirmation] about 60 people have died in the attack, including women and children. At least one thousand have been injured. French President Emmanuel Macron [who had a long telephone conversation with Trump over the weekend] and the London government back the US. The leaders have agreed on a "strong and joint response".

The tug of war between powers came to a head yesterday evening at the UN. Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia forcefully denied charges that  chemical weapons were used, stating that "there is no evidence". He then pointed the finger at Washington, London and Paris, accusing them of instigating "a campaign of aggression against Russia and Syria, a sovereign state". "You do not realize - he concluded - the level of risk you are pushing the international situation towards".

US representative Nikki Haley immediately responded that Moscow "supports a monster" in Syria; however "Russian obstructionism will not prevent the United States from responding". The US press for a Security Council vote, but so far no agreement has been reached on the draft resolution to be presented to the Member States.

"Russia and the United States say everything and the opposite of everything. Washington accuses but has no certainties. What I cannot fathom,- the vicar of Aleppo continues - is the sense of carrying out an attack with chemical weapons after having already freed almost all the territory of eastern Ghouta. It doesn’t seem very credible to me so I wonder to whose advantage all of this really is".

In a context of growing accusations and violence, the appeal for peace by Pope Francis remains central, who even in recent days returned to pray for Syria. "The Pope’s appeal words echo our position and our greatest desire. We want peace.  In front of these attacks and the consequent threats, people are afraid and the escalation of the last days is frightening. I cannot say what has changed in recent weeks, but what we are seeing is the search at all costs for a pretext to destroy our country".

The prelate hopes that the logic of dialogue and peace will prevail "and for this we pray every day. We thinking about proposing a day of national prayer for peace ". "We need to reach a shared solution - concludes the Apostolic Vicar- but if the criterion of truth is not used and lies and mendacity are exploited for personal interests, it will be difficult. And once again it will be the Syrian families to pay the price for all of this, the families who are already devastated economically, socially and morally by an endless conflict. "(DS)

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