Voices from Russia

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East to Stay in Damascus

00 St George Syriac Orthodox Church. Damascus. Syria. 29.08.13


On Sunday, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East said that it had no plans to relocate from its offices in Damascus, despite continuing battles between rebel and government forces there. The patriarchate said in a statement carried by SANA, “There is no plan to move the official residence of the Apostolic See of Antioch from Damascus to any other place. Moving the seat is something that Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas, as well as the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Syriacs worldwide refuse”. The patriarchate’s headquarters is at St George Cathedral, in the Christian neighbourhood of Bab Touma in the Old City of Damascus. In June, an explosion struck Bab Touma, in what Syrian state television said was a suicide bombing. It was the first major blast reported inside the Old City since the beginning of the civil war. The Syriac body made no mention of the country’s bloody conflict in the statement, but it emphasised that if it left Damascus, the church “might lose its legal and legitimate rights”. They went on to say, “It’s important to keep Syriacs in Syria, in all parts of the Syrian territories”.

5 August 2013

The Daily Star



Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Still No News on Kidnapped Bishops in Syria

00 Boulos Yazigi. Syria. Bishop. 30.04.13

Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi of Aleppo


A spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo said that there’s still no news about the two Syrian Orthodox archbishops kidnapped a week ago, on 22 April. The spokesman, who preferred to be anonymous for security reasons, spoke today with the Catholic NGO Aid to the Church in Need, saying, “We still don’t know where the two archbishops are or who has taken them. There are many Christians being kidnapped now, and this is the first time where we have absolutely no clue about what has happened, where nobody has taken responsibility for the abduction. Of course, this is very worrying… especially, as we’re now on Day Eight since [the kidnapping] happened”.

Gunmen abducted Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yagizi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim some five miles west of Aleppo, the city to which they were returning after travelling to the Turkish border to negotiate the release of two priests… Frs Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz… kidnapped on 9 February. The kidnapped killed the archbishops’ driver, Deacon Fatha’ Allah Kabboud. Even if the archbishops are being held in a safe location, there’s concern for the health of Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Ibrahim, who takes medication for high blood pressure and diabetes, and isn’t thought to have had the medication with him when he was taken.

The diocesan spokesman said that Church leaders were combating pressure from the Christian community. He said that Christians were calling for demonstrations to appeal for the archbishops’ release, a move which that he said could antagonise the kidnappers. Saying that services and prayer vigils were taking place including one broadcast on Syrian TV, he added, “Christians are worried and want to express their anger about what’s happened, but we should carefully study every step… we have to think about what the response would be from the kidnappers”.

He went on to appeal for continuing international pressure for the archbishops’ release. Emphasising the bishops’ high status, he said that he was hopeful that diplomatic intervention would prove effective, noting, “So far, the international community has done very well in putting pressure. We don’t want that pressure to subside… government, civil society, churches, and NGOs… different levels of help might help”. He called on Christians “and all people of good will” to pray for the archbishops’ release, observing, “What’s so sad about this is that both men were among those working hardest for peace, yet, in this time of conflict, they’re amongst those paying the highest price”.

29 April 2013




00 Youhanna Ibrahim. Syria. Bishop. 30.04.13

Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo


Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi appealed for the release of two Orthodox bishops kidnapped and held in Syria, saying that they should be set free in the name of humanity. Rai made his appeal whilst he served liturgy at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Brazil, where he’s on an official visit. On 22 April, armed men kidnapped Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, as they were enroute to the northern city from the Turkish border. Rai said that all parties involved in the kidnappings should “play a part in their release”, and emphasised, “The kidnapping of the two bishops has nothing to do with current political disputes”.

29 April 2013

The Daily Star



On Friday, in a strong message of solidarity, Muslim clerics in Damascus denounced the kidnapping of Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi, and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo. Last Monday, armed men abducted the two whilst they were travelling to Aleppo from a town on the Turkish border where they were carrying out “humanitarian work”. The official SANA news agency reported that imams and preachers at mosques throughout the Syrian capital said in Friday sermons that the kidnappers “ dishonoured the inviolability of Christian and Islamic clergymen”. On Saturday, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation joined in, calling for the “unconditional” release of the two bishops. Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu, the OIC secretary general, condemned the kidnapping. The OIC statement urged their “immediate and unconditional release because such acts contradict the principles of true Islam and the [high] status held by Christian clergymen in Islam”. It added that Christian clergy always “had dignity and honour in Islamic countries”.

28 April 2013

ICN: Independent Catholic News


Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Confusion Surrounds Fate of Abducted Bishops

00 Syrian Islamist insurgent terrorists


On Tuesday, the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East denied that it circulated reports that kidnappers released the two archbishops abducted in Aleppo in Syria. The fate of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim remained mired in mystery after gunmen abducted the two clergymen and killed their driver in Aleppo Monday night. The news prompted global concern that the incident risked escalating regional hostilities. Patriarch Youhanna Yazigi, the First Hierarch of the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, and a brother of one of the kidnapped, denied reports of the bishops’ release. According to the official AOCANA website, in a phone call to Metropolitan Philip Saliba of North America, he said, “These reports are false, and the release of these two hierarchs hasn’t taken place”.

Tuesday afternoon, Bishop Tony Yazigi told Reuters that reports claimed that the kidnapped bishops were now free, saying, “The two are on their way to the patriarchate in Aleppo”. However, by Tuesday evening, with no word on the bishops’ arrival, it wasn’t clear whether they’d reached the city. Details about the circumstances and location of the initial abduction were also unclear. State news sources initially reported that gunmen abducted the two whilst they were carrying out humanitarian work in the village of Kfour Dael in Aleppo Governorate. However, a source in the Greek Orthodox diocese later told AFP the men were in the rebel-held Bab al-Hawa area, near the Turkish border.

Italian Fr Paolo dall’Oglio SJ, who ran an interfaith monastery in Syria and participated in hostage release negotiations in Idlib before being expelled from the country in June, told The Daily Star that he had doubts about the story. He questioned why the bishops would be crossing the frontline into rebel-held areas, given the current security situation in the north of the country, saying, “I’m not astonished that they were kidnapped, but I’m astonished that they were travelling to rebel areas given that the church has been in solidarity with the régime”.

Government and opposition officials traded accusations throughout the day over who was responsible for the kidnapping. According to state news agency SANA, the government’s Endowment Ministry, which is responsible for religious affairs, described the capture as a “terrorist act”. It added that Chechen mercenaries working for Jabhat al-Nusra carried out the attack; that’s an al-Qaeda-aligned organisation the USA designated a terrorist group. An official from the Syriac Orthodox diocese echoed the government, saying, “The news which we have received is that an armed group … [of] Chechens stopped the car and kidnapped the two bishops while the driver was killed”. Dall’Oglio told The Daily Star he was sceptical of the details, saying, “I’d be very prudent with the information we have been given. How do they know they’re Chechens?”

The opposition National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces placed blame for the bishop’s capture firmly in the régime’s hands. A press release from the group stated, “Initial investigations conducted by the Syrian Coalition regarding the kidnapping and killing of Father Youhanna Ibrahim’s bodyguard implicate the Assad régime in this crime. The Free Syrian Army categorically denies any responsibility for this kidnapping. The Assad regime was angered by [Archbishop Ibrahim’s] latest statement, in which he stated that the survival of Christians in Syria isn’t linked to the survival of the régime”. The statement refers to an interview Ibrahim gave to the BBC on 13 April, when he indicated that the death toll in Syria’s 2-year-old civil war was 100,000, higher than the UN official figure of 70,000.

Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, who resigned as head of the coalition Sunday, also suggested the regime might be involved. In a post on his personal Facebook page, he said, “Whilst Syria’s seen thousands of its sons and daughters kidnapped … the latest kidnapping aims at igniting an unprecedented conflict that we should avoid. The kidnapper might be an external intelligence apparatus that’s pouring oil on the fire”. Whilst confusion reigned over the fate of the bishops, Lebanese and world figures rushed to condemn the kidnappings. The Vatican said Pope Francisco Bergoglio was praying for the bishops’ “well-being and liberation” whilst the Moscow Patriarchate called for the release of the men. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said the abductions wouldn’t yield the desired results, but didn’t speculate on who was behind the attacks.

24 April 2013

Nadia Massih

Lauren Williams

The Daily Star


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Syrian Army Defeats Rebels in Aleppo


Syrian troops repelled rebel attacks in Aleppo, the second most important city in the country. After three days of street fighting, the armed gangs retreated, failing to break government force defence lines. The army surrounded and crushed an al-Qaeda-linked rebel band that took part in the offensive. According to the SANA news agency, they killed over 100 mercenaries and terrorists. Syrian Air Force helicopters attacked a convoy of trucks moving to Aleppo from the Turkish border. The BBC reported that the fighting between government forces and rebels led to the destruction of a medieval market on the UNESCO World Heritage List. A fire started in the market situated in the Old City on Friday, 28 September, and it’s still raging now. The fire began because of a battle during which both sides used grenade-launchers and assault rifles.

30 September 2012

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

There’s no news on the Syrian victory in the Western media. If that isn’t proof that it’s unreliable propaganda, well, what is? Bashar al-Assad’s no prize package, but he’s not a bloodthirsty Islamist killer, either. Most Muslims are decent sorts who don’t want the kind of world that the Islamists want. Don’t fall for the hate from Fox News and from Willy’s camp.

Isn’t it funny… the people who peddle hate claim to love Jesus (trust me, He’ll tell them, “I know thee not!”)… it does make one think, doesn’t it?


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