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War in Syria: “We cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel”


Ahmad Shafie BILAL I AFP

Paul de Dinechin - published on 02/06/18

According to the Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, the Turkish intervention in the country opens a new phase of the war, which is difficult for the Syrian people.

“Every year we see a new chapter open in the Syrian conflict.” These are the words of Cardinal Zenari to the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire. Zenari is the Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See in Damascus, and was created cardinal by Pope Francis, particularly because of his courage, thanks to which he remained in the besieged city when many had fled. As he explains, the current Turkish offensive on Afrin in northern Syria is starting the latest chapter in an endless war.

On January 20, 2018, Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch.” The objective is to “clean” the Afrin region of Kurdish elements, which are the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish party, considered by Ankara to be terrorists. Even if this military initiative overflows also onto Iraqi territory, President Erdogan defends himself from any accusation that his real intention is to invade.

Thus, the humanitarian situation of “beloved Syria” is critical, says Cardinal Zenari. “We cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he laments.  The humanitarian situation in Syria is, in fact, a tragedy against which the Holy See strives to fight as much as possible. At the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow on February 12, 2016, in Havana, the two religious leaders called on the international community to take “urgent action” to prevent “the eviction of Christians from the Middle East.”

But two years after the historic meeting of Cuba, the Italian Apostolic Nuncio would like the international community “to redouble its efforts” to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict. He believes it is the only possible way to put an end to this bloodbath. Without international support for a diplomatic solution, the doctors, charities, and other organizations who take care of the victims of the war cannot accomplish their mission.

Meanwhile, in Europe, public opinion hastily concludes that the collapse of the Islamic State organization, virtually wiped out today, put an end to the war in Syria. This is an erroneous idea. In the words of Cardinal Zenari, “Daesh was a kind of generalized cancer, which spread throughout an already sick and weakened body.”

Pope FrancisSyriaTurkey
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