Tens of thousands of Christians have escaped from Syria’s city of Aleppo while many others intend to stand firm against ISIL terrorists, a local official says.
“A lot of members of our community have left because they lost their jobs and because of terror of Daesh (ISIL),” said Georges Bakhache, public relations officer for Aleppo’s Christians, adding that “Despite it all, we will not leave our land. Impossible.”
ISIL terrorists “are not in town but they’re not far,” he also said, adding that “Christians panicked when they saw what happened to the Christians of Mosul,” Iraq’s second city, which ISIL captured in June.
Thousands of Iraqi Christians were forced out of their homes in the city of Mosul following an ultimatum by ISIL terrorists, who ordered Christians to convert, pay a special tax, or leave, or otherwise there would be “nothing for them but the sword.”
This made “a big stir here (Aleppo) and Christians left for Lebanon, Sweden, Canada, America and Armenia,” Bakhache noted.
Bakhache said he is determined to stay in Aleppo, rather than join his family members in the United States.
Meanwhile, Father Imad Daher of the Latin church of Saint Francis said Christians are getting ready to put up their Christmas trees.
“We will celebrate Christmas … We will celebrate with a mass for peace,” he said.
The northern metropolis of Aleppo, which was the economic hub of Syria, has since July 2012 been divided into a western sector under the government troops’ control and a militant-held east.
Christians comprise roughly 10 percent of the Syrian population and Aleppo alone was home to some 250,000 of these people before the Syria war reached the city in 2012.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fuelled by foreign-backed militants has so far claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, according to reports.
The ISIL terrorists that control large parts of Syria and Iraq have threatened all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and Christians.