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December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
4 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A refugee child from Syria stands outside a makeshift shelter in the village of Jeb Jennine, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. No one is sure how many refugees from Syria have already arrived in Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Church in England, Wales launches day of prayer for Middle East (Vatican Radio) The bishops of England and Wales have invited the faithful in the United Kingdom to set aside Tuesday, 4 December 2012, as a day of prayer in solidarity with all those suffering injustice in the Middle East and North Africa. The bishops made the announcement after their November plenary assembly in which they reflected on the tragedy unfolding in Syria and Gaza…

U.S. Warns Syria against use of chemical weapons (Vatican Radio) Intelligence sources in the United States government are saying they have evidence Syrian government engineers have mixed the precursor chemicals to make Sarin gas. The gas could be delivered against targets — including civilian populations — by airplane…

Patriarch: Christians are inspired by ‘Arab renaissance’ of 19th century (Fides) In the great upheavals that are shaking the Middle East, the historical precedent in which even Christians can find inspiration is Nahda, the cultural and political renaissance experienced by the Arab peoples in the 19th century. Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter referenced this in his speech during the opening session of the Assembly of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops of the Middle East, which began yesterday afternoon, 3 December…

Pope calls for world authority as ‘moral force’ (Catholic News Service) The world authority envisioned by two popes as a way to ensure global peace and justice would not be a superpower, but primarily a moral force with limited jurisdiction, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope made his remarks 3 December to a plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which was scheduled to meet for three days to discuss the theme of “political authority and global governance.” In his address, Pope Benedict recalled that Blessed John XXIII had called for the “construction of a world community, with a corresponding authority,” to serve the “common good of the human family”…

Church beatifies first lay martyr in India (Business Standard of India) Devasahayam Pillai, the 18th century martyr who sacrificed his life for the faith in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore, was beatified by the Catholic Church on 2 December. Pillai is the first layperson to be elevated to the rank of the “Blessed” in India, one step away from sainthood under Canon Law. Apart from representatives of the Vatican, Indian cardinals, senior bishops, priests, religious and a large congregation of lay devotees attended the function at the Carmer Higher Secondary School operated under the Kottar Diocese…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Middle East Pope Benedict XVI Indian Christians Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

3 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A statue stands outside a destroyed Jesuit church in Homs, Syria, on 30 November. Activists said the church had been bombed by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
(photo: CNS/Yazan Homsy, Reuters)


Syrian violence reaches Turkey, Lebanon (Associated Press) Syrian warplanes on Monday bombed a security building that had been taken over by rebels along the Turkish border, killing at least one person, wounding 20 more and sending dozens of civilians fleeing across the frontier, a Turkish official said. The conflict also spilled into Syria’s eastern neighbor, Lebanon, after Lebanese troops exchanged fire with rebels across the border late Sunday. Violence from Syria’s 20-month-old uprising has on several occasions touched neighboring countries, fueling concerns that the Arab Spring’s longest and deadliest revolt could touch off a regional war...

Syrian democracy a dream (Catholic Register) The Armenian Orthodox Primate of Damascus sees little hope the Syrian civil war will end with a democratic regime in power and questions Western support for rebel groups. The bishop is touring Armenian expatriate communities in North America asking for donations through Church channels. One of the most effective Church agencies working with internally displaced Syrians has been the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, known as the Pontifical Mission Society in the Middle East, said Nalbandian...

Pope to begin tweeting next week (Reuters) The secret’s out. Pope Benedict’s new handle on Twitter will be @pontifex, beating out other contenders that had been considered to showcase the thoughts of one of the world’s most visible leaders. Benedict already has 1.2 billion “followers” in the standard sense of the word but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter. The Vatican said on Monday that the pope will start tweeting on 12 December. “The handle is a good one. It means ‘pope’ and it also means ‘bridge builder’,” said Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican...

Russia may soften religion law (Reuters) Russian lawmakers are reworking a draft law introducing prison terms for religious offences after signs that Vladimir Putin is concerned it could undermine the delicate balance between the country’s many religions...

Date set for primate to be enthroned (OCA.org) His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, will be enthroned as the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC on Sunday, 27 January 2013. The announcement was issued by the Holy Synod of Bishops on Friday, November 30, 2012. Metropolitan Tikhon was elected at the 17th All-American Council in Parma, OH 13 November...

Patriarch Gregorios III releases statement on Palestinian recognition (byzcath.org) Patriarch Gregorios III greatly appreciated the UN resolution granting observer status to the Palestinian state. He said: “Thank God, who waits but never forgets.” He also thanked the countries that voted for the resolution, whilst censuring countries voting against it, some of which seek to be in the defending vanguard of nations’ freedom and dignity...

VIDEO: Cardinal Thottunkal: We have to laugh more and spread joy (Rome Reports) He is now the youngest member of the College of Cardinals, his name, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, from India. He admits it is a great responsibility, but above all, a chance for his Church to work hand in hand with the Pope to spread a message of joy...



Tags: Syria Lebanon Palestine Pope Benedict XVI Turkey

30 November 2012
Greg Kandra




Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi speaks during his first televised address after the election this past summer. (photo: CNS via Reuters)

Christians excluded as Islamists back Egypt’s constitution (Associated Press via NBC News) Islamists approved a draft constitution for Egypt early Friday without the participation of liberal and Christian members, seeking to pre-empt a court ruling that could dissolve their panel with a rushed, marathon vote that further inflames the conflict between the opposition and President Mohammed Morsi. The vote by the constituent assembly advanced a charter with an Islamist bent that rights experts say could give Muslim clerics oversight over legislation and bring restrictions on freedom of speech, women’s rights and other liberties...

Holy See welcomes decision of UN to grant observer status to Palestine (Vatican Radio) The General Assembly has given majority approval to the Resolution by which Palestine has become a non-member Observer State of the United Nations. The Holy See has released a communique welcoming the move...

Patriarch Fouad Twal on UN move: “I am grateful and happy” (Fides) The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Msgr. Fouad Twal, expressed his joy to Fides Agency for the step taken yesterday in New York, where the UN General Assembly approved the recognition of Palestine as a non-member State observer. “It is a joy that I share with all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, and that soon I will express on behalf of our Christian communities to President Abu Mazen, as soon as he gets back”, said Patriarch Twal...

Court convicts 12 for anti-Christian violence in India (Fides) A court of first instance in Orissa sentenced to six years in jail 12 persons guilty of violence against Christian communities, during the campaign of indiscriminate violence which occurred in the district of Kandhamal (Orissa) in 2008...

Toronto’s Arab Knights call on Catholics to support Holy Land (Catholic Register) Toronto’s Arab Knights of Columbus are calling on Catholics to help support Christian students in Jerusalem today to ensure the future of Christianity in the Middle East for years to come. Hikmat Dandan, Grand Knight of Toronto’s Jesus The King Arab Christian Council, began this project two years ago when Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey of Jerusalem addressed members of Jesus The King Melkite Catholic Church. The archbishop spoke “about the problems that Christians were facing in the Holy Land,” said Dandan. “And then he spoke about the school and how parents are not able to cope with the cost of the students”...



Tags: India Egypt Palestine Jerusalem

29 November 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro




A demonstrator smothers a tear gas canister in a puddle of water during 25 November protests in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo. Hundreds were injured in protests following Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's claim to new powers that shield his decisions from judicial review. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Egypt’s courts will not be ‘blackmailed’ (L.A. Times) Egypt’s highest court has indicated it will soon rule on whether to dissolve the constitutional assembly, which has been boycotted by liberals and non-Muslims because of its preference for Shari’a, or Islamic law. Anticipating this, the assembly announced it was rushing to deliver a final draft of the new constitution to President Morsi on Thursday, days before the court is expected to make its decision. The rapid-paced maneuvering between the court and Morsi spoke to a dramatic test of wills over which side would shape the charter and the nation’s political future…

Indian archbishop reports ‘boom of vocations’ in the Year of the Faith (Fides) “The new vocations… are an injection of hope for the local Church. And from the people who live the Year of Faith with enthusiasm, joy, confidence in the future,” said Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. Additionally, Father Faustine Lucas Lobo, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in India, who went to Kandhamal in past weeks, confirms to Fides: “Catholics and vocations to the priesthood and religious life are growing, thanks to the work of the Church,” and the local faithful are “filled with missionary zeal”…

Maronite patriarch reaffirms need for Christian-Muslim dialogue (EWTN) Now also a cardinal, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter says he feels more responsible for improving Muslim and Christian dialogue in the Middle East. The church leader said he feels “the great responsibility to move forward in building communion with Muslims and Christians in a very divided and conflictive Middle East.” One of the six cardinals Pope Benedict XVI created on 24 November, Patriarch Bechara Peter is the only one representing Arab Christians in the Vatican…

Extremist Hungarian politician claims Jews are a ‘security risk’ (Der Spiegel) During a Monday evening debate over Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Márton Gyöngyösi, deputy parliamentary floor leader for the Jobbik party, demanded that “all Jews living in Hungary be registered” and that “Jews, particularly those in parliament and the government, be evaluated for the potential danger they pose to Hungary.” In a comment directed at Zsolt Németh, a state secretary in the Foreign Ministry, he said: “I think you owe Hungary such a compilation”…

Catholicos seeks peace with Jacobites (The Asian Age) Catholicos Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church on Sunday extended an olive branch to the Jacobite faction in the church, saying, “There is no reason for those having the same faith and liturgy to stay apart.” Addressing a mammoth gathering of the faithful at the centenary celebrations of the catholicate, the pontiff said: “I am all for unity in the Malankara Church. I don’t know why it’s still a far cry, and who all are blocking it”…

Hamas leader revives talk of reunion with P.L.O. (New York Times) On the eve of the United Nations vote on whether to declare the Palestinian Authority a nonmember state, the leader of Hamas revived a long-percolating proposal for his militant party to join the Palestine Liberation Organization, the group that, with Israel, signed the Oslo Accord, which Hamas has long derided. Speaking at an academic conference here by video link from his new base in Doha, Qatar, the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, called on Wednesday for the politically divided Palestinians to unite through new P.L.O. elections that would rebuild the organization “on a correct basis that includes all Palestinian forces.”



Tags: Egypt Palestine Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Hungary Indian Bishops

28 November 2012
Greg Kandra




A damaged church is seen after shelling by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Assad in Daria, near Damascus on 26 November. (photo: CNS/Fadi al Derani, Shaam News Network handout via Reuters)

Car bombs kill dozens in Damascus (Reuters) Two car bombs exploded in an attack that killed at least 34 people on Wednesday in a district of the Syrian capital loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The explosions struck the eastern neighborhood of Jaramana, home to many of Syria’s Druze minority as well as Christians who have fled violence elsewhere, ripping through nearby shops and bringing debris crashing down on cars…

Russian Orthodox Church offers to send relief to Syria (Interfax) The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed willingness to send humanitarian relief to Christians in conflict-ridden Syria. “I believe that we must support the initiative to send humanitarian aid to Syrian Christians who are suffering and have lost their homes, primarily by sending them medications and bandages. The Russian Church stands ready to join this project,” the head of the church, Patriarch Kirill, said at a meeting of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society on Wednesday…

Photo essay: Coptic Christians grapple with fear and faith (Mother Jones) With Egypt aspiring to democracy but still in political tumult, much is at stake for its minority populations, including Coptic Christians. They are estimated to number more than eight million, making them the country’s largest religious minority group. Increasingly they have become a target for extremists. Since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, acts of aggression and violence, in addition to long-running discrimination and neglect, have instilled fear in the Coptic community regarding their prospects for a peaceful existence.

Ukrainians in Canada gather to remember millions killed by famine (Windsor Star) For a local history teacher, the “sadistic” events of Holodomor, kept silent for decades, are not only important to remember, but important to teach others. “Forcing innocent people to starve, there is no justification for that,” Andrew Stebelsky, a Herman high school history teacher, said Sunday during a ceremony held to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the man-made famine. The Holodomor — meaning death by starvation — led to about seven million deaths of mostly rural Ukrainians through the policies of Joseph Stalin’s communist regime in 1932-33…



Tags: Egypt Ukraine Syrian Civil War Russian Orthodox Church Egypt's Christians

27 November 2012
Greg Kandra




A demonstrator prepares to throw a smoking tear gas canister back at police during protests in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo on 25 November. Several hundred people were injured in protests following Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi’s claim to new powers that shield his decisions from judicial review. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Meeting between patriarch and Egyptian Catholic leaders postponed (Fides) New Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II announced that a meeting with a qualified Egyptian delegation of the Catholic churches would be postponed until 11 December. A reason for the postponement is due to the tension that reigns throughout Egypt — especially in the capital, after the constitutional decrees with which President Morsi has expanded his powers have sparked violent protests against the government and also the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Cluster bomb reportedly kills children in Syrian playground (Vatican Radio) Activists in Syria say a government jet has dropped a cluster bomb on a playground, leaving ten children dead. Video posted online showed children’s bodies on the ground with their mothers grieving over them. Opposition activists said that the children were killed when a MiG fighter bombed a playground in the village of Deir al Asafir, east of Damascus…

Canada’s Syro-Malankara Catholics proud of new cardinal (Catholic Register) Canada’s Syro-Malankara Catholic community may be modest in size but its members are reacting with immense pride to the elevation of its first cardinal. Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, the head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, was to be among eight prelates elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict on 24 November. He is the first cardinal ever selected from the India-based Syro-Malankara Church. For the 250-member Syro-Malankara congregation of Toronto, the unexpected honor is cause for celebration…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Coptic Orthodox Church Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Egypt's Christians

26 November 2012
Greg Kandra




Pope Benedict XVI greets new Cardinal Bechara Rai, Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch, during a consistory in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 24 November. The pope created six new cardinals from four different continents, representing the Latin rite of the Catholic Church as well as two Eastern Catholic churches. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

Celebrating universality, pope creates new cardinals (CNS) Recalling that Christ’s mission transcends “all ethnic, national and religious particularities,” Pope Benedict XVI created six new cardinals from four different continents, representing the Latin rite of the Catholic Church as well as two Eastern Catholic Churches...

Pope appeals for peace in meeting with Lebanon’s new cardinal (Associated Press) Pope Benedict XVI has launched his latest appeal for peace in Syria and the Middle East during an audience with Lebanon’s new cardinal. Benedict also sought to encourage minority Christians in the region, urging them to not be tempted to flee their traditional homelands and calling for them to be allowed to “live their faith freely...”

Egyptian protests continue (Vatican Radio) Protests in Egypt over President Mohamed Morsi’s decision to grab sweeping powers have entered their third day. The president’s decrees put him above judicial oversight and protect his Islamist supporters in parliament...

Chaldean Bishop Audo: Syrian conflict has disfigured Aleppo (Fides) In recent days, the clash of arms that could be heard even from the center of Aleppo seems to have lessened. And in the apparent stalemate, the devastating effects of the conflict on one of the most thriving and cosmopolitan city in the Middle East is registered with more clarity. “Here now everything is enshrouded by a sense of ruin and decay,” says Msgr. Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of the metropolis...

Cardinal O’Brien visits Holy Land (CNS) On the eve of his first trip to the Holy Land as grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien said he hoped to encourage the region’s Christian minority with a message of solidarity from Pope Benedict XVI and other Catholics in the West...

Byzantine Catholic congregation gathers for last time (Akron Beacon Journal) Megan McGuire was overcome with emotion Sunday as she walked down the center aisle at St. Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Church to receive communion. “It was tough knowing this was the last time I would walk down this aisle,” said McGuire, 30, of Akron. “I had hoped to walk down it to get married, but I guess that won’t happen.” McGuire was among more than 150 people who crowded the sanctuary of the Akron church for the parish’s final Mass, a highly emotional service in which parishioners shed tears and shared hugs...



Tags: Syria Egypt Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem

21 November 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro




Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 20 November. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)

Pope Condemns escalating Gaza conflict, calls for truce (CNS) Pope Benedict XVI condemned escalating hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, saying hatred and violence are never an appropriate solution to problems. He called for greater efforts to promote a truce and peace negotiations. “I am following with great concern the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” the pope said at the end of his general audience on 21 November. “Hatred and violence are not the solution to problems. ... I encourage the initiatives and efforts of those who are seeking to establish a cease-fire and to promote negotiations,” he said…

Christian leaders in the Holy Land: Support Palestine’s UN membership (PNN) A statement signed by 100 Holy Land Christian community and church leaders urges widespread support for UN membership for Palestine. “We believe the Palestine Liberation Organization’s initiative to enhance Palestine’s status in the United Nations to an Observer State is a positive, collective and moral step that will get us closer to freedom. This is a step in the right direction for the cause of a just peace in the region. We fully endorse this bid, just as we supported Palestine’s application for full membership of the United Nations a year ago.” Signatories include Sami El-Yousef, CNEWA’s regional director for Palestine and Israel…

Catholic and Muslim cooperation promotes justice (VIS) “Catholic and Muslim cooperation in promoting justice in the contemporary world” was the theme of the eighth Colloquium of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Center for Interreligious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation (ICRO). The meeting was held in Rome from 19 to 21 November under the joint presidency of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and of Mohammad Bagher Korramshad, president of ICRO. A communique released today explains how the theme was divided into four subheadings, “from the point of view of Catholics and of Shi’i Muslims: (1) The concept of justice; (2) Justice for the human person; (3) Justice for the different constituents of society; and (4) Justice for the entire human family.” The English-language communique goes on: “Both sides expressed their awareness of and concern for current challenges, including the economic crisis, the environmental issue, the weakening of the family as a basic institution of society and threats to world peace”…

Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Church to install fifth bishop (Tribune-Democrat) The Right Reverend Gregory Tatsis, who is to be consecrated as the fifth bishop of the American Carpatho-Rusyn Orthodox Diocese of the U.S.A., said he finds Johnstown to his liking. His ordination and installation will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Christ the Savior Cathedral. He replaces Metropolitan Nicholas Smisko, who died of cancer in March 2011. The celebrant and ordaining bishop is Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, representing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople…

Egyptian Christian churches withdraw from creation of new constitution (Egypt Independent) On Saturday, Coptic Orthodox Bishop Pachomius, at that time the acting Coptic Orthodox pope, announced that the Egyptian churches were officially withdrawing their three members from the Constituent Assembly. Speaking at a press conference, Bishop Pachomius said that “the Egyptian churches [have] sensed discomfort at the trends that prevailed [while] drafting the constitutional provisions. The constitution ... in its current form does not meet the desired national consensus and does not reflect the pluralistic identity of Egypt, [which has been] entrenched across generations.” He added that the constitution in its current drafted form contradicts Egypt’s heritage and violates the rights and freedoms that Muslims and Christians have both fought for through the ages…



Tags: Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine Israeli-Palestinian conflict Christian-Muslim relations

20 November 2012
Greg Kandra




Palestinians inspect rubble on 20 November at a house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa,  Reuters)

Gaza violence continues (Vatican Radio) The Israeli offensive in Gaza is into its seventh day, with rocket fire from militants inside the territory continuing as well. A full diplomatic press is underway to stop the violence, though there is no breakthrough as yet. This morning, Israeli aircraft struck the headquarters of Gaza Strip bank the territory’s Hamas rulers set up to sidestep international sanctions…

Pope Benedict’s message to Pope Tawadros II (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has sent a message of congratulations to the pope of Alexandria, His Holiness Tawadros II, who was enthroned on Sunday in the Cathedral Basilica of St Mark in Cairo, Egypt…

Mortars strike Syria, violence erupts in capital (Reuters) Two mortar rounds struck Syria’s Information Ministry building in the capital Damascus on Tuesday, state television said, causing some damage but no casualties. Syrian TV blamed “terrorists” for the attack, referring to insurgents who have been battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad since last year…

Orthodox-Catholic dialogue issues joint statement on the importance of Sunday in Christian life (USCCB) The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation issued a statement of agreement on the importance of Sunday in the lives of Christians at its 25-27 October meeting at St. Paul’s College in Washington. Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans and Metropolitan Methodios of Boston jointly chaired the meeting. The pastoral statement on the importance of Sunday calls for Orthodox and Catholic Christians to recover the theological significance of a day that for many “has become less a day of worship and family and more like an ordinary work day.” It ends with a call to clergy and laity “to work cooperatively within their communities to stress the importance of Sunday for worship and family” …



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Pope Benedict XVI Ecumenism Israeli-Palestinian conflict

19 November 2012
Christopher Boland




Smoke and an explosion are seen after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City 19 November. An Israeli missile ripped through a two-story home in a residential area of Gaza City the previous day, killing at least 11 civilians, including four young children, in the single deadliest attack of Israel’s offensive against Islamic militants. (Photo: CNS/Mohamad Salem, Reuters)

Violence in Gaza (Catholic News Service) The Israeli government and leaders of Hamas must make courageous decisions to end the violence that has once again forced residents of Southern Israel into their bomb shelters and residents of the Gaza Strip into their homes, said Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem.

New Coptic Pope (Reuters) The Coptic Orthodox church staged a ceremony rich in ritual on Sunday to install its pope, Tawadros II, who Christians hope will guide them through the new, Islamist-led Egypt. The 60-year-old pope was picked on November 4 and the ceremony on Sunday filled with incense, elaborate robes and chanting marked his formal ascendance as the 118th leader of the church.

Israel Shells Syrian Fighters (The Washington Post) Israel shelled Syrian fighters after gunfire from their civil war spilled over to the Israel-controlled Golan Heights, the military said Sunday, as the conflict appeared to inch closer to the Jewish state. The civil war in Syria has renewed tensions in the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war.

Syrian Islamists Reject Western-backed Opposition (Associated Press) Syria’s increasingly powerful Islamist rebel factions rejected the country’s new Western-backed opposition coalition and unilaterally declared an Islamic state in the key battleground of Aleppo, a sign of the seemingly intractable splits among those fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. The move highlights the struggle over the direction of the rebellion at a time when the opposition is trying to gain the West’s trust and secure a flow of weapons to fight the regime.



Tags: Middle East Christians CNEWA Middle East Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine





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