Supporting President Assad may be the only hope of Christians surviving during and after Syria’s civil war, writes John Pontifex for Lapido Media.

On a recent trip to Syria for Aid to the Church in Need, he found Christians considered it better to support the current leadership than face the threat from Islamic State and other militant groups.

Christians are not “blind to the atrocities carried out by the Baathist leader and his military machine”, he writes, but they fear the Church “would be completely extinguished were Assad’s bitterest enemies to turn the tide and secure victory for the forces of extremist Islam”. The view of many Christian leaders, he writes, was that moderate groups, “in the ascendancy early on in the conflict”, were squeezed out by extremists and government forces.

Pontifex reported that most interviewees said that once peace is assured, Syrians should have the right to consider a future without Assad at the helm.

A father who fled the extremists to neighbouring Lebanon found the choice of leadership easy, according to Pontifex. The only person who can bring peace is Assad, he said: “At least we had some freedom of speech. At least we could go to church. At least we had some citizenship. What is the alternative? – the end to everything we had.”