- (Photo: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)
Christians in Syria are becoming more and more afraid of the situation in the civil war-hit country and are finding themselves in greater need of humanitarian aid, a bishop from the embattled city of Aleppo has said.
"People are terrified," said Chaldean Christian Bishop Antoine Audo earlier this week. "They fear a situation that is becoming more and more violent and uncertain."
Like a host of other cities across Syria, government forces are battling rebel troops set on taking down the regime of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Thousands of people have already fled the war-torn areas, but those trapped in the crossfire are running out of food and basic supplies.
"People are sleeping in schools, in parks," Audo continued. "There is a great human need now."
"People don't know what will come next," the bishop added. "We are looking at what happened in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Iraq, the uncertainty."
Like much of the rest of the country, Christians in Aleppo are the minority at 8 to 10 percent of the population, surrounded by a Muslim majority, the Seattle Times shared.
On Friday, reports said that another 20 people lost their lives in clashes in Aleppo, bringing the total casualties of the day across the country to 110. On Wednesday, the fighting had spread to Bab Tuma and Bab Sharqi, two traditional Christian districts of the capital city of Damascus.
Over 17,000 people, many of them civilians, have lost their lives in the conflict since it began last year. Scores of people are being killed every day, as hundreds are continuously being forced from their homes. The United Nations, which recently saw the resignation of Kofi Annan as the organization's Syrian envoy, has failed to negotiate peace agreement between the Assad and rebel forces.
Assad has claimed that the rebels are terrorists and has denied accusations by the international community that any form of dissent in his country is being violently suppressed.
Christians are caught in a conflict few can predict the outcome of – while Assad's regime has been portrayed as tyrannical by many, some have suggested that at least it protected religious freedom and allowed minorities like Christians to live in peace.
Many fear how the landscape of Syria will change if radical Islamists take over and decide to bring in Sharia law, the moral and religious codes of Islam, which might threaten religious liberties.
"Will their freedom to worship end? Will persecution increase? Will they have to flee Syria with their families as have thousands of believers in Iraq?" Open Doors USA President and CEO Dr. Carl Moeller has asked in a statement on Christians int the country.