Will Christians be eradicated in Aleppo?

May 20, 2015
Source: District of the USA

A news report on how the suffering of Christians in the Syrian city of Aleppo continues to worsen.

Bishop Anthony Audo, a Jesuit and the Catholic Chaldean head of Aleppo, has been raising the alarm over the past two years about the ongoing war in Syria and its disastrous results for Christians. Aleppo is the second largest city of Syria in the north and was once a “stronghold of Christianity”, but due to continued bombardments, many Chaldean Catholics have fled the area.

Today’s conditions unchanged from yesterday’s

In early 2013, Bishop Audo wrote to Agenzia Fides (the Pontifical Mission Societies’ information service) to alert them of the dire living conditions in Aleppo:

One lives day by day. I have the impression that people are more and more exhausted. They have all become poor and everyone is always looking for something to eat for himself and his family. In the streets of Aleppo you can see the people that run endlessly with bags in their hand, trying to find a bit of bread…"[1]

Agenzia Fides further underscored the bishop’s statement:

This is the daily condition experienced by a city that was among the most prosperous and dynamic in the Middle East, and which now appears hopelessly scarred by the civil war.”[2]

Nearly a year later in March 2014, Bishop Audo wrote in Britain’s Telegraph that the health system in Syria had crumbled, with many doctors fleeing the country for fear of their lives, leaving residents with little medical help in crises.[3]

Despite that 2 years have passed since the Chaldean bishop’s first cited report, the tragic situation in Aleppo remains unchanged and the plight of the suffering Christians largely ignored by the international community.

In the meantime, Bishop Audo has continued to speak out and he recently emphasized that circumstances in Syria have not always been like this. For many years Syrians lived together as a country, as a civilization, and a culture without hate or violence. As he explains, most people of that country are not interested in sectarian divisions:

We just want to work and live as we did before the war, when people of all faiths co-existed peacefully. Syrian Christians may face great peril, but we have a crucial role to play in restoring peace.”[4]

Thus some Christians in Aleppo continue to hold out hope that the situation can be turned around. Nevertheless the bishop added:

I strongly fear as a bishop that Aleppo will be empty of Christians within a few months. They were 150,000 and perhaps two-thirds have left. There is no wish to stay, hope and resist.”[5]

Is this a deliberate campaign to cleanse the region of the Catholic religion?

In the same aforementioned year-ago report to The Telegraph, Bishop Audo reported:

Until the war began, Syria was one of the last remaining strongholds for Christianity in the Middle East. We have 45 churches in Aleppo. But now our faith is under mortal threat, in danger of being driven into extinction, the same pattern we have seen in neighboring Iraq.

Just recently to Agenzia Fides, Bishop Audo spoke at length about the political motivations of the war being waged by the rebels:

The impression is that that there is a strong propaganda and a psychological war against the [Syrian] government, directed notably on the international level, by means of a guided use of the media. They talk about an imminent attack on Aleppo and declare that the city is doomed. Perhaps they are preparing something.”[4]

The info agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies cited in its March 8, 2014 news title[5] Bishop Audo’s belief that there are those use the “dirty wars in the Middle East… [to] exploit the suffering of Christians” for their political agenda:

…three weeks ago heavy attacks were carried out by armed anti-government groups against targeted districts where Christian churches are concentrated and then also against Suleimanya district, home to many Christians. Perhaps the intention was just to impress international public opinion and justify military responses.

They have done everything to present this conflict as a religious clash between Christians and Muslims, or between Shiites and Sunnis. Of course, Christians are the most defenseless group, they have no weapons, they are afraid.

But certain slogans and certain driven interpretations only serve to hide the real reasons and the real dynamics of the war. There are those who want to divide the whole area into small sectarian entities, as they tried to do in Iraq, in order to continue to dominate everything.”[6]

Bishop Audo stated even more clearly that the bombardments were directed by the rebels towards the Christian quarters as: “very clear messages to rid Aleppo of the Christian, as has happened especially at Mosul in Iraq last year with the Islamic State.”

Is a political solution to end the conflict in sight?

The armed groups are stronger” affirms the bishop who also deplored that:

For several weeks, I have the impression that they are leaning towards rejection of a political solution…

I believe that, on the spot, it is Turkey which gathers all these armed groups, Saudi Arabia and Qatar finance them for a very specific purpose, that is to say, for the Sunnite power in the region…

The disappearance of the Christian presence interests mostly Saudi Arabia and Turkey than the presence of active Christians who had a rather secular vision of a modern State…

The Christians of Aleppo spontaneously turn towards the pope and the Vatican. The pope was able to work out a reconciliation in Cuba. So why not a solution for Syria?”[7]


1 Agenzia Fides, 4-10-2013: “Chaldean Bishop Audo: Aleppo is starving”.

2 The Telegraph, 3-8-2014, "We Christians live in fear in Syria: Our faith is under mortal threat, in danger of being driven into extinction, the same pattern we have seen in neighbouring Iraq".

3 Ibid.

4 Medias-Presse-Info, "L’archeveque d’Alep accuse la Turquie, l’Arabie saoudite et le Qatar d’armer et financer le terrorisme pour installer le sunnisme en Syrie", 5-14-2015. Translation by the author.

5 Agenzia Fides, 5-8-2015, "Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo: in dirty wars in the Middle East there are those who exploit the suffering of Christians".

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.