The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the December 30 attack which left more than 40 injured and 20 people killed 13 of them Christians.
Church officials in Syria condemned the terrorist attack that focused on Christian-run restaurants in Al-Qamishli, a Christian neighborhood in northeastern Syria.
Ignatius Joseph III Younan,Syriac Catholic Patriarch told Catholic News Service from the patriarchate in Beirut, “Most victims were young people willing to welcome the New Year with hope and joy, Instead in tears and gloomy hope, Christians of Qamishli welcomed 2016.”
“It was a sinister message the terrorists wanted to send to the Christians of this city, sowing death and tears,” Patriarch Joseph III said, speaking on the massacre … a message of horror so far to the entire Christian community in this war-torn country for the past five years.Prior to the conflict that is tearing apart Syria, Christians in Qamishli, located in northeast Syria near the Turkish border, numbered about 40,000.
“Now they surely are less than half, after this massacre, our fear is that the emigration of Christians will go further and in larger numbers.”he added.
“It is a really frightening development of the situation. The young generation seem to have no more hope in the future,” he said.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 50,000 deaths were recorded in 2015 alone, including more than 2,500 children, the country’s fifth year of conflict. The war has claimed lives of more than 260,000, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, displacing more than half the country’s pre-war population and forcing the flight of more than 4 million refugees.
In a statement from the who was born in Qamishli, denounced the attack, saying: “The old people weep, the young are losing hope and the children’s joy is wiped away.”
Patriarchate in Damascus, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II,in a statement condemned the attack saying “The enemy of humanity is spreading its power everywhere in our beloved Middle East, seeking to destroy the homes of the children of God and to lead them astray”.
“What god do these suicide bombers worship? What religion do they follow?” the patriarch asked, emphasising that “they use blood, slaughter, and killing as a way to please their god.”
“Where are the people of good conscience to act against these attacks? Is it not time to wake up from their deep sleep and to do all that is possible to protect the remaining people in this region, whose sole concern is to live in peace in their homeland? Is it not the fit time to unite and collectively fight all forms of terrorism and extremism?” he continued.
The funerals of the 13 Christian Victims of the Qamishli attack was concelebrated by Syriac Catholic Archbishops Gregorios Elias Tabe of Damascus and Jacque Behnan Hindo of Hassakeh, a Syriac Orthodox Bishop and several members of Armenian Catholic and Orthodox clergy, which Patriarch Younan referred to as “a witness of communion that Christians of the Middle East continue to give, living ‘the ecumenism of blood,’ as Pope Francis has repeatedly said.”
The Syriac and Armenian Catholic patriarchs, bishops of different denominations and Orthodox came together at Beirut on 31st December 2015 to offer prayers for the Victims.
“We pray to the Lord to end this tragedy: Enough of this terrorism, enough is enough,” Patriarch Younan said at the ceremony. “We invite and urge decision-makers in the world to work on security and restoring peace and tranquility in the world, especially in our East, especially in Syria and Iraq.”