Christians in fear as rival factions rip Aleppo apart
A religious Sister in Syria helping people under bombardment has described how one family discovered their 18-year-old son hanging dead from a power cable, after he was flung from their house by a bomb which landed on their home.
As well as losing their son Michel in the explosion, the Christian family from Aleppo are grieving for his brother, Annor, who was in his early 20s, and their mother.
In a pitiful account of life in the northern city on the front-line of conflict, Sr Annie Demerjian gave details of thousands of people fleeing for their lives, desperate to escape the raging conflict between Government and rebel forces.
In Sr Annie’s account, given to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, she says: “[One] family lost their mother and two sons.
“The force of the explosion flung one of the sons out of the house, leaving him dead, hanging on the power cables.
“His mother and brother were blown to bits by the bombs. Their relatives are still finding body parts among the rubble.”
Describing how the violence had worsened, Sr Annie made an appeal: “Pray for Aleppo. People are fearful as never before. Thousands have already left the city, both Christian and Muslim. We are preparing for the worst.”
She said the Christian quarter of Aleppo had “noticeably emptied out” and that Christians were leaving, taking what possessions they could carry and seeking refuge on the coast or in the ‘Valley of the Christians’ near Homs.
Sr Annie reported that over the past few weeks a number of churches had been damaged. Within the last 10 days the Greek Catholic Melkite Cathedral of Aleppo was attacked for at least the third time and could no longer be used for worship.
Melkite clergy in the capital, Damascus, say the bombardments are the work of extremist Islamist opposition groups, including Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front.
Sr Annie said that after sustained bomb attacks, traumatised Christians are nervous about almost every sound they cannot recognise and that many are now living surrounded by bomb damage.
The Armenian Catholic Sister described how on 10th April – Good Friday in the Eastern Churches – Aleppo’s Christian quarter of Suleymaniye came under heavy bombardment.
She said: “One woman saw her own children lying motionless among the people; fortunately they had survived but others lost their lives in the attacks.
“On Easter Sunday, we buried many of our brothers and sisters. We hurried from one funeral to the next. It was so sad.”
Sr Annie thanked Aid to the Church in Need for funding emergency aid programmes she has carried out both in Aleppo and Hassake, another city in northern Syria. Food, clothing and shelter have been provided.
She stated: “Without the benefactors of ACN we could not do what we are doing. It gives the people here a little bit of security and hope to know that they have not been forgotten.
“Above all, I ask you to pray for Aleppo and for Syria. May God enlighten the hearts of those in power so that they can find a way to peace. Otherwise, I do not know how long the people can continue to endure it all.”