Syria: rebels resist in Homs, Christians commemorate abductions

2014-04-22 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Syrian rebels are making their last desperate stand in the city of Homs, as government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad make their strongest push yet to dislodge them from their positions in the city that was an early and important hub of unrest.

As fighting continues in Homs and elsewhere, the humanitarian crisis in the country continues to worsen. Three years of conflict have seen 150 thousand people killed, and millions of others driven from their homes. The United Nations estimates that nearly 7 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian aid.

With a near-total disruption of commerce, industry and even basic services, order has broken down and been replaced by lawlessness in much of the territory. Tuesday marked the first anniversary of the kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops – two of many, perhaps scores of Christians taken by force and held against their will, whether for ransom or vendetta, or other motives.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari told Vatican Radio he would be remembering the kidnapped bishops, along with Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio and two other priests – one Armenian Catholic and one Orthodox – who were also abducted. “We want to remember [all the] many, many persons who are still being held against their will,” he said. “Kidnappings are one of the afflictions of this war: from those that are [merely] criminal, to those that are perhaps politically motivated.”

Meanwhile, Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad has called a presidential election for June 3. The opposition and the United States denounced the vote as a farce, while UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon warned that Syria's newly announced presidential election would undermine efforts to achieve a political solution to the conflict, if allowed to go through. Listen: