ISIS: 'Thousands of Christians fleeing' Syria

'Village speaking Jesus's language attacked', Father Awad

09 November, 18:55

    Christian Patriarchs walking in Homs Christian Patriarchs walking in Homs

     - ROME - Thousands of Syrian Christians are fleeing after fierce attacks by ISIS on the town of Sadad since October 31 and nearby Maheen, which has reportedly already fallen.

    Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh of Homs told international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that ''Aramaic, the language of Jesus'' is still spoken in Sadad. Over 15,000 people have fled the Christian town and the nearby Al-Hafar, he added, saying that Sadad is still endangered despite the presence of Syrian government forces. ''We are afraid that ISIS - which God will hopefully prevent - will conquer the town. We would lose the center of Christianity in our diocese,'' Archbishop Selwanos said.

    Father Luka Awad, head of humanitarian emergencies for the Syrian-Catholic diocese of Homs, said that Sadad is important to ISIS primarily for strategic and economic reasons, but that he jihadists also want to seize Sadad because it is a Christian town.

    ''When the IS fighters conquered Al-Qaryatayn, they made the threat: 'We will kill all of the Christians in Sadad','' he said. The town of Sadad, Father Luka explained, is an important Christian center and ''the people there still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Moreover, we have important churches there.

    It is really a center of our Christian heritage. Its loss doesn't bear contemplating. We truly are fearing for our cultural heritage. We beg the international community to put an end to this war. My people already experienced a genocide one hundred years ago, in 1915. Now, in the 21st century, we don't need another.'' 

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