A church in the beleaguered Syrian city of Aleppo has opened its doors to Muslims as well as Christians fleeing the war.
Nearly 2,000 Muslims have benefited from the help offered by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, including by the Church of Elias the Prophet, reported Ruptly.tv, an affiliate of Russia Today (RT).
Engaged in community service for decades, the recent war in Syria (2011-present) has focused the Archdiocese’s efforts through a refugees’ aid centre entirely operated by volunteers.
“We have been brought up by the church to help others irrespective of their ethnic or religious affiliation, or where their situation might have placed them,” a volunteer said.
Fighting between government and rebel forces has escalated in recent weeks in Aleppo, leaving hundreds dead.
Aleppo enjoyed a mosaic of Christian communities, including Greek Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenians, Evangelicals and Maronites, with its Christian population historically bolstered by survivors of earlier genocides, including the massacres of Armenians in the early 1900s.
During the latest war, many Christians have been displaced, significantly reducing the pre-war figure of 10% of the overall population.
Meanwhile, Syrian government planes have attacked parts of the north-eastern Syrian city of Hassake, which are held by the Kurdish militia – for the first time since the civil war started. Hassake is where the Archbishoprics of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syriac Catholic Church were headquartered. The Kurds have focused on fighting Islamic State control, while the government has fought rebels elsewhere; these clashes intensify the battle for control of the north-east of Syria, as well as Aleppo in the north-west. After IS advances in Spring 2015, many Assyrian Christians fled to Hassake.
Syria ranks fifth in Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, a list of 50 countries where Christians come under the most pressure.