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One thousand more Syrian Christians flee after ultimatum

One thousand more Syrian Christians flee after ultimatum

Syrian armed opposition’s military chief caused over 1,000 Christians to flee the west Syrian town of Qusayr, adding to fears that believers may be forced out of Syria, reports Catholic News Agency.The Christian communities fear being targeted, destroyed or driven out,” said Neville Kyrke-Smith, Aid to the Church in Need’s U.K. director. “We all need to stand in prayer and solidarity now.”Kyrke-Smith, who returned from Lebanon on June 11, told CNA that the report of Christian flight echoes the concerns he heard from bishops, priests, and religious communities concerned about Christians’ fate in neighboring Syria.“The message time and again was ‘please do not forget the Christians of the Middle East,’” he reported.Syrian opposition military chief Abdel Salam Harba had given an ultimatum for Christians to leave Qusayr, a town near Homs, by June 8. Some mosques in the city repeated the message in announcements from their minarets, Fides news agency reports.Only 1,000 Christians remained in the town, which was home to 10,000 Christians before the conflict began between the Syrian government and opposition forces.The reasons for the latest ultimatum are unclear. Some sources say it helps avoid more Christian suffering, while others say it reveals “a continuity focused on discrimination and repression.” Others say Christians’ open loyalty to the state is the reason they are driven away.

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