Bishop cries out as ISIS devastates Syrian towns
"If there are no safe areas in Syria, still more people will leave the country--probably for good. Many of them will go by sea."
NEW YORK (May 24,
2016)—A Syrian prelate has described desperate efforts to tend to the injured
and the dying following multiple ISIS attacks on Tartous and Jableh, which have
left more than 200 dead and nearly 650 injured.
Bishop Antoine Chbeir told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church
that the May 23 attacks in his diocese were the first of their kind in an area
where displaced Syrians had gathered by the hundreds of thousands. The coastal region
has remained under Syrian government control and was considered to be one of
the country’s last remaining safe havens for Muslims and Christians alike.
The prelate warned
that the attacks on the two coastal cities may prompt a surge in people fleeing
Syria: “If there are no safe areas in Syria, still more people will leave the
country—probably for good. Many of them will go by sea.” According to local
news reports, the apparent aim of ISIS was to strike the Assad regime in its
core stronghold, which is backed by the nearby Russian fleet.
The Maronite bishop
of Latakia described the desperate efforts of clergy and laity diocese to come
to the aid of victims, adding that today priests have begun burying the dead. Bishop
Chbeir said: “We are trying to help the people and are taking care of the
wounded. It is a very dramatic situation and when the disaster struck we
wondered if we could cope.
“Right now, our
priests and people are on the scene. They are visiting the people – many of
them have broken legs and deep wounds, not to mention the psychological
continued: “First of all, we need physical and material help, just to help
those affected to have something to eat and to help them take care of those who
are suffering the most.” He added: “We care for people not because of their
particular religion but because they are human beings. In this month of May, we
are praying to Our Lady to help us.”