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Syria's Chemical Horror: No One Deserves 'This Type of Brutality,' Christian Group Says

Syria chemical attack
A man breathes through an oxygen mask as another one receives treatments, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017. |

Christian relief groups and other humanitarian organizations have strongly condemned the "brutal" chemical weapons attack on Syria last week, but largely declined to comment on President Donald Trump's reaction to it.

"We have always been and continue to be deeply concerned by the horrific suffering that has been visited on the people of Syria throughout this war. While our work is primarily to assist Christians and other religious minorities in Syria who have been targeted for genocide because of their faith, no one, regardless of their religious belief or ethnicity, should be subjected to this type of brutality," Isaac Six, advocacy director of International Christian Concern, told The Christian Post.

"I think Christians everywhere should take a moment to pray for the families of the victims, no matter their political or religious beliefs." 

A number of children were among the 80 plus people killed in the suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun last Tuesday. Trump and most observing countries accused Assad of attacking his own people.

While the Syrian government and its ally Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack, Trump reacted by launching 59 missiles from two U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean, which reportedly killed six people and destroyed much of a Syrian air base.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has since hit out against Russia, arguing that it had agreed to ensure Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles were destroyed following another attack in 2013, but failed to follow through on that agreement.

While most persecution watchdog groups, including Open Doors USA, declined to comment on whether Trump is doing the right thing by bombing Syrian government targets, some, such as Oxfam America, questioned the U.S. president's motives.

"The innocent families who were killed in Idlib are no different than the people who are attempting to seek refuge in the U.S.," said Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America's senior humanitarian policy adviser, when asked for comment by CP.

"If we truly want to help protect the people of Syria, we must also be willing to offer the Syrians assistance as they flee attacks in search of safety. We should be opening our hearts and doors to the most vulnerable, not slamming them shut," he added, referring to Trump's efforts to curtail the U.S. refugee program.

Gottschalk said that more than half of Syria's population has had to flee their homes in the six year-long civil war, being waged between Assad and various rebel groups.

"Years of attacks on civilians, conducted with impunity, have brought us to this moment. Now more than ever, Oxfam underscores the urgency of redoubling efforts to find a lasting peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis and to offer safe refuge for the Syrian people who are fleeing for their lives," he said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the chemical attack in Syria was one that "shocks the soul."

"The use of internationally banned indiscriminate weapons is morally reprehensible. At the same time, our Conference affirmed the call of Pope Francis to attain peace in Syria 'through dialogue and reconciliation,'" the Conference of Bishops said.

"We ask the United States to work tirelessly with other governments to obtain a ceasefire, initiate serious negotiations, provide impartial humanitarian assistance, and encourage efforts to build an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens, including Christians and other minorities." 

As BBC pointed out, the situation in Syria remains highly volatile, with Russian and Iran, another one of Assad's few military backers, threatening retaliation if the U.S. launches more air strikes against the Syrian government.

"From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well," read a joint statement by Russia and Iran.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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