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Fanaticism and arms trafficking

· Uncertain the number of Christian hostages in Syria ·

The number of Christians being held hostage by Islamic State militants is still uncertain. According to various sources there are between 90 and 150 who were taken from the north eastern province of Syria, Hasaka, which borders Turkey. It is, however, clear that after the hostages were taken many were killed and the Catholic church of Tal Hermez, one of the oldest in the country, was burned.

On the military level, the Islamic State seems to be driving to open supply lines from Turkey in order to launch an offensive against the Kurdish Peshmerga. Pseudo-religious fanaticism seems to be the main characteristic of IS and Christian communities are the the jihadists' specific target. Archbishop Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus, declared that the Christian populations are fleeing the area. The militants, who were driven out from various places including Kobane "are seizing other areas and villages", the Nuncio said. Prudence is key when determining the next step. "We must be careful because it is difficult to obtain information in this state of war", Archbishop Zenari said, referring to the "pain which all religious minorities, including Christians, are enduring at this time".

Bishop Shlemon Warduni of the Curia of Babylon for Chaldeans also weighed in on how this international situation is being underestimated, speaking to SIR, the information service of the Italian Bishops' Conference. "The whole world knows what IS is", he said. "Where is the international community?". Stopping the sale of weapons to terrorists "is the best way to defuse the violence and defeat them. No more arms trade. Let's deal with this humanitarian crisis and the millions of people who have lost everything", the Bishop insisted.

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St. Peter’s Square

March 20, 2019

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