- (Photo: REUTERS/Momahed Dimashkia)
As the civil war in Syria has reached "unprecedented levels of horror," according to the U.N., Christians are being forced to flee their homes as avoiding the violent conflict has become less of an option.
"It's a fight to the death which by definition involves killing. No one will win but those who fought from the start will create a desert and then call it victory," Sky News said of the war raging between army forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad and rebels bent on taking down what they say is a tyrannical regime.
The war has swept the entire nation, closing down infrastructure and businesses, and forcing many to choose a side or risk being caught in the crossfire. One of the worst attacks in the country occurred less than two weeks ago, when over 100 people were found slaughtered near the Christian-populated city of Homs. Witnesses blamed forces loyal to President Assad, who allegedly killed civilians they believed were harboring or aiding rebel soldiers.
Christians make up around 10 percent of the country's predominantly Muslim population, and although they have tried to stay out of the conflict, they are being forced out of their homes by rebels and loyalists; they are facing starvation and lack of medical care, and fleeing to neighboring countries like Lebanon.
Those who stay, meanwhile, see churches burnt down and priests murdered, and they have little means of protecting themselves. While many other sectarian groups have formed militias and physically fought back against the violence, Sky noted that followers of Christ in Syria are predominantly from the merchant class and do not have strongholds where they can hide out.
"The Kurds, Alawites, Druze, Christian, and Shia minorities are all now contemplating and planning for a post-Assad scenario. Of them all, the Christians are the most exposed," the report notes. "No one will win. The people have already lost."
Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told a 15-member UN Security Council on Tuesday: "Unprecedented levels of horror have been reached. The tragedy does not have an end.
"The country is breaking up before everyone's eyes. Only the international community can help, and first and foremost the Security Council.".
The international community has pleaded with President Bashir and rebels to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict, but by all accounts things seem to be getting worse for the people in Syria. The civil war has cost over 60,000 lives so far, a U.N. report noted, and there seems to be no clear indication when the bloody stalemate will end. Civilian casualties keep mounting, and both sides are eager to blame each other for attacks in public places. Restricted access to Syria is also making it hard to establish the legitimacy of claims made by the rebels or the army forces.
"That is why I believe the Security Council simply cannot continue to say: 'We are in disagreement, therefore let's wait for better times.' I think they have to grapple with this problem now," the peace envoy told reporters after the council meeting.