Syrian BISHOPS on the Tomahawk Attack

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two prominent Catholic leaders in Syria criticized the U.S. missile strikes against their nation, wondering why they occurred before investigations into the origins of chemical attacks reported April 4.

But U.S. President Donald Trump said Syrian President Bashar Assad “launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians” and “choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children.”
“No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” he said April 6, announcing that he had ordered the strike against the air base from which he said the chemical weapons attack was launched.
Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan called the attack an aggression and told Catholic News Service: “It is a shame that the United States administration didn’t wait until an honest United Nations investigation was thoroughly made into what is said to be a chemical air strike in Khan Shaykun.”

“The agglomerate media and the supremacist policy of the USA just want the killing and destroying conflict in Syria to continue, and this primarily to kill whatever attempt to resolve the bloody crisis,” added Patriarch Younan, who was born in Syria and served for 14 years as bishop of the New Jersey-based Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance for Syriac Catholics in the United States and Canada.

Bishop Georges Khazen, who serves Latin-rite Catholics in Aleppo, told the Rome-based Fides news agency that he was baffled by “the speed with which it was decided and carried out, without any adequate investigation into the tragic massacre with chemical weapons which took place in Idlib province.”

He said the attack “opens new disturbing scenarios for all.”
The U.S. launched 59 missiles from the USS Ross and USS Porter in the Mediterranean early April 7 local time. U.S. officials said they targeted Shayrat Air Base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas.
In his statement, Trump said, “There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council.”
The president said it was vital to U.S. security interests “to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” and he called on other nations “to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”
“Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically,” Trump said. “As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.”

“We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed, and we hope that as long as America stands for justice, that peace and harmony will in the end prevail,” he said.

Syrian officials called the attack a “blatant aggression,” and the General Command of the Syrian army said it “confirms the continuation of the wrong American strategy and restricts the counterterrorist operation that the Syrian army is conducting.”

The Syrian state news agency SANA reported nine civilians, including four children, were killed in the U.S. attack. SANA said the civilians died in villages near the airbase and that seven more people were wounded.
It was not clear whether this figure included any of the six dead announced by the Syrian army earlier.

Patriarch Younan, who said he passed Shayrat Air Base after the strike, en route to celebrate a funeral in Hafar, noted the U.S. was accusing Syria — a U.N. member — of using chemical weapons, but had not investigated the charge.

“The Syrian army was fighting successfully to end the bloody conflict going on for long. It did not need any military intervention that would be condemned by international agencies, such as using chemicals,” he said. He added that Christians would suffer the consequences, and the final results of displacement and persecution would not be known for decades.

After the chemical attack was reported, Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo told Fides that although he understood things were not always what they seemed, he could not imagine the Syrian government “is so naive and ignorant to be able to do such ‘errors.'”

He said the Syrian government and opposition continued to blame each other for the 2013 chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus.
“Two days ago, U.S. President Donald Trump said that Assad is part of the solution of the Syrian problem. Now he makes statements that say the contrary,” Bishop Audo told Fides. “There are interests of regional powers involved in the war. We should always take this into account, especially when certain things are repeated with similar dynamics, and trigger the same reactions and the same effects already experienced in the past.”

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9 comments on “Syrian BISHOPS on the Tomahawk Attack

  1. The following is a Bing translation (original in Spanish) from a Catholic nun, Hermana Guadalupe who has lived many years in the Middle East, and who is now reporting from Syria: She says:

    “It is intolerable to what is happening on the international scene. Intolerable and shameful. Produced an attack with chemical weapons in Syria, and without proper investigation take immediate reprisals against whom “pose” is the culprit, attacking a Syrian military base where dying soldiers, and also civilians die… that call “justice”? Is it possible in the 21st century, in which both are boasts of the exercise of democracy, impulsive and unilateral decisions that just take the lives of more innocent people? What can we expect of our societies if those who govern us taught us that before damage is justified punishment without trial to the so-called guilty? It is the incentive for us kill each other by simple suspicions… It is the triumph of barbarism…

    “It is not the first time that the use of chemical weapons is attributed to the Syrian army, and this already seems to be a “test”. As if the number of repeated suspicions always coming from the same camp was the ultimate proof of guilt. That is taught in our universities law??

    “But those who live this conflict in Syria from the beginning, unfortunately we know that the manipulation of information has been the most powerful weapon. The accusations against the Syrian Government are based largely on information from the same rebel groups, the Syrian Observatory for human rights (OSDH), which has its base of operations in Coventry, in the United Kingdom, and is composed by a single person… Or videos made by supporters of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda (as seen in the release of Aleppo).

    Or White Helmets, which is proven that they make mounting videos, and has seen them is in executions of Syrian army soldiers and even attached to a mob that linchaba the “pigs” of the army.

    “The history, which is the “use of chemical weapons” has already shown us an inconsistent accusation invented to justify the own interests. It is the ideal to convince the public opinion excuse. It happened in Iraq. And we have also seen it in Syria. I remember when in 2013 were accused of such attacks Syrian army. U.N. observers arrived in the country for the investigation of the case, already in hand brought the judgment of conviction to the Syrian Government. And finally they could not prove it, but also confirmed his guilt.

    Our people in Syria is outraged, and once again feel disappointed by the behaviour of the international community. They are still holding that during all these years, has been the Syrian army its only defense, terrorist attacks of the rebels charged victims every day among civilians. On the other hand, considered ridiculous the fact that in these moments, in which the national army supported by Russia is regaining control of the cities, risk its reputation with a low blow.

    “But we pay attention to the situation as a whole. As USA prosecuted the attack on the military base Shayrat (Homs), the Islamic State was attacking positions of the Syrian army on the road linking Homs, Furqlus and Palmira. Is this a coincidence? It not seem too close to what made the previous administration of the United States in September 2016 when it attacked “by mistake” positions of the Syrian army in Deir al – Zur killing 80 soldiers, and allowing the Islamic State to recover strategic positions in the area?

    Pray for the Syrian people. They see helplessly as they destroyed their country and the worst terrorists who have (n)ever(?) been, are supported by the powerful of the Earth.”

  2. The typical hypocrisy from the West. Where was the ‘proof that “Saddam Hussein” had weapons of Mass destruction? But who needs that? Might is right! we are going to do as we please, but then decry anyone else who choose not to follow the rules that we arbitrarily establish and ignore when it fits the occasion.

  3. Catholic Leaders Criticize U.S. Attack on Assad Regime; Complicated Plight of Christians in Syria Continues
    [article has many supporting links]

    Catholic News Service reported on Friday that two Catholic leaders in Syria are criticizing the U.S. attack on the Bashar al-Assad regime that took place on Thursday, claiming it will only assure the continuation of the bloody civil war in the country, with Christians perhaps suffering the most.

    “It is a shame that the United States administration didn’t wait until an honest United Nations investigation was thoroughly made into what is said to be a chemical air strike in Khan Shaykun,” Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph Younan told CNS.

    “The agglomerate media and the supremacist policy of the USA just want the killing and destroying conflict in Syria to continue, and this primarily to kill whatever attempt to resolve the bloody crisis,” the Syrian-born Younan told CNS. Younan also served for fourteen years as bishop of the New Jersey-based Diocese of Our Lady of Deliverance for Syriac Catholics in the United States and Canada.

    Bishop Georges Khazen, who serves Latin-rite Catholics in Aleppo, agreed that there should have been an investigation as to who perpetrated the chemical weapon attack before any military response, telling the Rome-based Fides news agency that the U.S. action “opens new disturbing scenarios for all.”

    The Pentagon confirmed the launch of 59 Tomahawk land attack missiles on Thursday night as a retaliatory move following what appeared to be a chemical attack on civilians in Idlib province.

    “The strikes were intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again,” Pentagon Spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said.

    Davis said the strikes hit aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers, and air defense systems and radars.

    In a speech explaining his actions, Trump said, in part:

    Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where a chemical attack was launched. It is in the vital, national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council.

    We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world. We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed, and we hope that as long as America stands for justice, that peace and harmony will in the end prevail.

    The criticism by Christians of the U.S. attack against the Assad regime reflects the complicated lives of believers in Syria and the contrast of their lives before and since the civil war.

    In December 2016, the Economist wrote about Christians caught in the civil war in Syria, now entering its seventh year, in an article entitled, “Aleppo presents a moral dilemma for Christian leaders”:

    The leaders of Syria’s local churches have generally looked to President Bashar al-Assad as their protector; and their feeling that only Mr Assad guarantees their lives has deepened as the conflict has polarized, with fundamentalist Sunni fighters, murderously hostile to all other faiths, on one side and government forces backed by Shia militias and Russian air power on the other. In this state of affairs, only the latter coalition seems to offer Christian churches any chance of prolonging their precarious existence. Many would say Mr Assad is to blame for bringing about that polarization; but to a bishop on Syria’s front-line, survival probably matters more than political analysis.

    To defend Mr. Assad seems morally outrageous, but calls for his removal risk sounding like a death-knell for fellow Christians.

    The Economist cited Father Jacques Mourad who survived five months of captivity at the hands of Islamic terrorists. He said that, while “Sunni extremism” is a threat to Christians, they are not the only threat.

    “The U.S. has been bombing Syria and Iraq for years, and now the Russians are doing so, too,” Mourad said. “And what have they achieved? Have they stopped the terrorist violence?

    “Absolutely not,” Mourad said.

    The BBC provided a backdrop for the Christian dilemma in an article it published in February 2015.

    The founder of the Baath Party, which has ruled Syria since 1963, was a Christian, and Christians rose to senior positions in the party, government and security forces, although they are generally not seen to have any real power compared with their Alawite and Sunni colleagues.

    Although, like other Syrians, they had very limited civil and political freedoms, Christians are believed to have valued the rights and protection accorded to minorities by Hafez al-Assad, who was president between 1971 and 2000, and by his son Bashar.

    According to the BBC, Patriarch Gregorios III Laham sent a statement to a Catholic charity saying, “The future of Christians in Syria is threatened not by Muslims but by… chaos… and the infiltration of uncontrollable fanatical, fundamentalist groups.”

    “Patriarch Gregorios said the threat to Christianity in Syria had wider implications for the religion’s future in the Middle East because the country had for decades provided a refuge for Christians from neighboring Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere,” the BBC reported.

    Still, there is no guarantee of the survival of Christianity in the cradle of the faith.

    One year ago, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, said that the Christian population in Syria has been reduced by two-thirds in five years — from 1.5 million to only 500,000.

    Speaking at a press conference at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Audo said that the situation in Aleppo is even worse than in the rest of Syria where the Christian population had fallen from 160,000 to 40,000.

  4. Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi endorse Trump’s attack in Syria

    [“With friends like them, who needs enemies?”]

    APRIL 7, 2017 BY DEACON ROBERT SPENCER

    That in itself ought to give Trump pause. They haven’t suddenly decided to become generous and bipartisan. They are, if anything, consistent. Trump is now working from the Obama playbook, aiding jihad groups as he did, and so the Democrats couldn’t be more pleased. At last he is presidential. But he is betraying the promises he made that propelled him into the White House.

    Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi endorse Trump’s attack in Syria,” by Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, April 7, 2017:

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi broke with fellow Democrats who had criticized President Trump’s military action against Syria to endorse the move late Thursday.

    “Making sure Assad knows that when he commits such despicable atrocities he will pay a price is the right thing to do,” Schumer said in a statement released late Thursday. “I salute the professionalism and skill of our Armed Forces who took action today.”

    “Tonight’s strike in Syria appears to be a proportional response to the the regime’s use of chemical weapons,” Pelosi said in a statement.

    Following the missile launch at 8:40 p.m. Thursday, some Democratic lawmakers criticized Trump for not asking Congress’ permission before choosing to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in west Syria where it’s believed Tuesday’s chemical weapon attack originated….

  5. The missile strike is only the tip of the iceberg:

    Haley: No political solution in Syria with Assad in power

    Trump is pushing regime change. Here we go again. It’s Bush III.

    Why do Christians prefer Assad? Because they live longer under him. Is it Stockholm Syndrome? I don’t know. But we do know that since Obama, Clinton and McCain propped up “opposition forces” in Syria (read ISIS, as they are now become), Christians have been faring about as well as they did in Iraq after we took out Saddam Hussein. So yes, we can blame Obama. But why is Trump pushing regime change? And what will it portend for Christians?

    • First, Trump proclaims regime change. Now we’re getting prepped for “preemptive strike.” Are Paul Ryan and John McCain in charge? Is Trump drowning in the swamp?

      Poll: Majority back preemptive strike on North Korea nukes
      by Paul Bedard, May 3, 2017

      A new Zogby Analytics poll provided to Secrets found that 52 percent back a U.S. first strike.

      “A majority (52 percent) of voters agree that the U.S. must deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat and are willing to even support a preemptive strike, as opposed to 36 percent of voters who disagree,” said the survey.

  6. Putting on my national security hat for a moment, allow me to say that we must not put any options off/on the table, As regards a preemtive srike, we must remember that the real culprits are China and Russia; they hold the cards which can limit what DPRK and Syria can or will accomplish. Surely they know now that we can and will respond when our vital interests are threatened. This is different from the previous administration’s “lead from behind” or “strategic patience” strategies.

    • What are “our vital interests” in the Middle East? If it’s oil, we are (or can be) self-sufficient on our own resources. I regard us as expending our own limited military resources to do what the European Union countries should be doing to protect their source of oil from the Middle East. If it’s Israel, it is not that dependent on us, because it has its own military capability, including nuclear (and possibly thermo-nuclear) weapons. The Israelis have shown how they ably use their conventional capability and, if necessary, could use their nuclear one to obliterate any enemy in whole (such as in retaliation for aggression from an unfriendly neighbor) or in part (such as a pre-emptive strike on facilities developing nuclear weapons).

      • I view our vital interests as preventing, by whatever means are available to us, the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us by middle east nations. There are just too many rogue nations in that area of the world with Syria and Iran being prime examples. But the same could be said for the DPRK which has an insane person at the helm. Both China and Russia are actors in this region and bear no small part of the blame in fomenting trouble for the US,

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