A recent report from the Syrian Network for Human Rights states the number of damaged churches across Syria since 2011 could be as high as 124. Some such structures have even been used by ISIS and other groups in the area as targets for weapon drills.
The report indicates that some church buildings were re-fashioned as military headquarters, while others were damaged without proof of surrounding military action. The Chairman of SNHR, in a report with Fox News, noted that in light of its new report, actors violated international laws that prohibit any hostile acts against places of worship.
The war of many fronts in and around Syria has been raging for more than eight long years. The cost of blood, time, and tears for all of those involved has been great, and for these modern times, incomparable. Churches, Basilicas, and Cathedrals hundreds and tens of hundreds of years old have been wrecked in the fray, leaving many such old houses of God heavily damaged, if not piles of rubble.
Syria, Iraq, and Southern Turkey as regions have seen the rise and fall of cultures and empires for millennia, but this conflict has, as all other engagements of modernized warfare have, cost something more than what is immediately apparent: history. Christianity has existed in the lands ravaged by the Syrian Civil War for almost as long as the foundations of Western culture have, and that longevity has left a lasting imprint on the landscape through these vestiges of worship.
As many Syrian Orthodox and Assyrian Orthodox families have departed the area, few have remained to care and tend to the ageing facades of these relics. While the nature of the church is not intrinsically and inseparably tied to any physical object or manmade establishment, nonetheless, the material legacy and meeting places of the church in the core of the Middle East should be spared in these wearing times.
Date published: 08/09/2019
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