Baptists in Syria are appealing for prayer for peace in the Middle Eastern country as the civil war drags on, severely affecting the lives of the country’s citizens, including the lives of Baptists and other Christians.
Mouner Ajji, pastor of Aleppo Baptist Church, reported that Baptists in the area of Aleppo known as Midan were among those who were able, for the first time in days, to get out of their houses on Sunday, September 16. Government forces had re-established control over that section of the city that had fallen into the hands of rebels, enabling freer movement.
He reported that “I did not have a chance to visit the area to see the damage but I hope that there is not that much destruction there.” He, however, attempted to go to Jdaide, an old area of the city, but had to abort his tour due to heavy shelling and gunfire.
Ajii expressed concern that schools and universities are unable to reopen for the new school year. “Mid-September is the time that schools and universities start, but it seems that they won’t now, because thousands of refugees are living in schools and in the university campus and fighting is still going [on] in many areas in the city!” He indicated that parents are too afraid to send their children out due to the fighting.
Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It was largely spared during the earlier stages of the Syrian civil war that began in March 2011, but has been increasingly drawn into the conflict in recent months.
The Battle for Aleppo began on July 19 between the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian military. Rebels and government forces have been fighting for control of the city. Hundreds have been killed in the violence and many Aleppo neighborhoods have been badly damaged. In one of the most recent attacks on September 9, more than 30 civilians and two security force members were killed near the Municipal Stadium as a result of a car bomb blast.
According to the United Nations, more than 200,000 people have fled Aleppo, once home to more than two million people, and regarded as Syria’s commercial hub.
The Baptist Convention of Syria, a BWA member organization, has approximately 600 members in 10 churches.
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© September 21, 2012