Christians in Syria Praying for Peace Amid Fears Ceasefire Has Ended

A civilian evacuates a baby from a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel held area of Aleppo's al-Fardous district, Syria, April 29, 2016. |
Syria map
Map showing recent air strikes by Russian and U.S. coalition forces. Includes area of control by faction. |
A man rides a motorcycle past a damaged building in the rebel-held al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria, September 17, 2016. |
Boys stand near a vegetable stand inside a market in the rebel-held al-Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo, Syria, September 17, 2016. |
A boy, whose brother was killed, reacts at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria, June 2, 2016. |
Damaged Red Cross and Red Crescent medical supplies lie inside a warehouse after an airstrike on the rebel held Urm al-Kubra town, western Aleppo city, Syria, September 20, 2016. |
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Christians in Aleppo are trying to keep the faith amid news that the ceasefire in Syria has already ended, Bishop George Abu Khazen said on Monday.

On Sunday, the faithful celebrated a mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of Mother Teresa. "The church was full, the bishops and faithful of all the churches in Aleppo were present. As pastors, we are comforted by the sight of so many Christians who live the tremendous moment we are going through in faith," said Khazen, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for the Catholics of the Latin rite, to Fides News Agency.

"I get emotional when I think that thanks to their faith the Lord will bless us and give us His peace."

Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the population in Syria, have suffered greatly along with other civilians, and have been forced to leave their homes by the masses.

The U.N. has said that it is suspending its aid convoys into Syria after warplanes near Aleppo destroyed 18 of its 31 trucks. The convoys had been carrying wheat, winter clothes, and medical supplies, seeking to provide some humanitarian relief to the millions of Syrian citizens trapped in the civil war.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that the attack was carried out by either Syrian or Russian aircraft, with the U.S. arguing that both sides had previous knowledge about the relief trucks and were cautioned not to strike them.

"The destination of this convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian Federation," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

"And yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people," he added.

USA Today reported Monday night that the Syrian government has declared an end to the week-old cease-fire brokered by Russia and the U.S., though Kerry insisted that it is too soon to make such a declaration.

"The important thing is the Russians need to control Assad, who evidently is indiscriminately bombing, including of humanitarian convoys," Kerry said.

Bishop Khazen meanwhile has reportedly rejected the U.S.'s statement that it accidentally bombed Syrian troops in an airstrike over the weekend thinking they were Islamic State jihadists.

The mistaken bombing has severely weakened the ceasefire agreement struck by Kerry and his Russian counterpart in Geneva nine days ago.

Khazen said: "The truce ... seems to be on the point of failing. Even last night we heard the government aviation raids on areas in the hands of rebels. And certainly, no one here believes that the massacre of Syrian soldiers caused by the U.S. bombing on a barrack was a mistake."

American pilots said they were aiming at IS jihadists when they accidentally killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers over the weekend, The New York Times reports, all but ending hopes that a newly agreed upon ceasefire in the war-torn country is going to last.

The U.S. has been seeking to drive out IS from its captured territory in Iraq and Syria, but at the same time has also been opposed to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting both IS and other Islamic rebel groups.

Khazen said the airstrikes on Syrian soldiers over the weekend seem to confirm the "ambiguity" about President Obama's mission in Syria, and argued that those who claim that the U.S. created IS can use the incident as more evidence for their theory.

"With all the tools and weapons at their disposal, that air raid could not have been an accident, since that barracks was not there yesterday," the bishop claimed.

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