Mideast Conference Participants Reject Military Strike on Syria, Warn of Consequences of Attack for Christians

Participants with the "Challenges Facing Arab Christians" conference rejected any Western-led military strike against Syria, warning of the potential impact on Syrian Christians.

Patriarch Gregorios Laham III of Antioch, who attended the two-day conference inthe Jordanian capital of Amman, said Tuesday that about 450,000 Syrian Christians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the conflict began in 2011.

The patriarch said "the greatest danger facing all of us is the division of the Arab and Muslim world and the growth of 'takfirist' movements that do not provide space for other thoughts."

"The expected military strike against Syria would increase the suffering of Christians and lead to the destruction of Syria's Christians and Muslims, and no one would survive it," he added.

Mar Sawirous Malki Murad, patriarchal vicar of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Jerusalem and Jordan, said "thousands of Christian families are confined in their houses like prisoners, and they come out once a week to bring in supplies for fear of being killed by armed extremists."

Mar Murad expressed hopes that "Syria would not be exposed to any military strike, because this will urge more Christians in Syria to leave their homes and their country, at a time we are trying to preserve our Christian presence in the region."

In a speech on behalf of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Mar Ignatius Zakka Iwas I, Mar Murad added, "We confirm our rejection to foreign interference in our Arab countries, especially in Syria."

He called on "all the components of the Syrian people to come together and hold dialogue to exchange views and show good faith to reach useful solutions, because dialogue is better than war, displacement and migration."

It should be noted that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced Tuesday that the number of Syrian refugees who fled violence in their country exceeded two million people. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 110,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict.