For Aleppo’s Christians, there is a profound fear of the unknown. The Assad government was tolerant of religious minorities, but the rebellion draws most support from Syria’s majority Sunni Muslim community.
By Patrick J. McDonnell
Los Angeles Times
BEIRUT — As explosions and gunfire sounded in the distance, the parishioners of St. Joseph’s Church in Aleppo, Syria, prayed for peace.
“People are terrified,” Chaldean Christian Bishop Antoine Audo said by telephone from Aleppo, after the Mass on Tuesday. “They fear a situation that is becoming more and more violent and uncertain.”
Syria’s most populous city endured another day of shelling, street battles and reported strafing from helicopter gunships. Tens of thousands of people have already fled. Pickups and cars filled with families and their belongings have been streaming out as rebel gunmen battle government forces.
The United Nations reported Tuesday that thousands remain trapped in the sprawling city of more than 2 million, which has become the focal point of the more than 16-month rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The crisis inside the city is becoming ever more dire, say aid workers, who fear a looming humanitarian catastrophe. Bread is in short supply; people are waiting in lines for hours to grab what is available. Gasoline is prohibitively expensive or nonexistent. Cooking oil is hard to find.