For good reason, Aleppo has attracted plenty of headlines. Bombs and violence wrack the eastern part of the city as government-backed forces try to recapture Aleppo from Islamic militants. Aleppo too is home to the largest Christian population in Syria and some of the world’s most ancient churches. Some Christians in Aleppo speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus.Christianity in Syria predates the Apostle Paul. Saul’s dramatic conversion took place on the road to Damascus, where he was planning to arrest Christians before he was stuck down and temporarily blinded. Churches there were flourishing before Paul’s arrival, emerging in the wake of Pentecost.At the beginning of the Syrian civil war, about 250,000 Christians resided in Aleppo. That number now has dwindled below 50,000. In only five years, it is believed nearly a million Christians have vanished from Syria. Many have fled or been slaughtered. Last year, Jean-Clément Jeanbart, archbishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Aleppo, warned the world that Christians from Syria “could disappear.”The massacre of Christians in Syria has included rapes, mass executions, crucifixions, beheadings, and other barbaric forms of torture at the hands of Islamists. Children are not excluded and some have reportedly been bludgeoned for refusing to renounce Christ.In 2013, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul declared, “Across the globe, Christians are under attack, almost as if we lived in the Middle Ages or if we lived under early Pagan Roman rule…. It’s almost as if that is happening again throughout the Middle East.” It is probable, especially in the Middle East, that more Christians are being persecuted and killed now than under the Roman Empire.Elliott Abrams, a former diplomat and senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, slammed the Obama administration for accepting only 56 Christian refugees out of 10,801 from Syria. Part of the problem, which Abrams understands, is that many Christians are unable to dwell in United Nations refugee camps because there they face persecution too. Despite legislation introduced on Capitol Hill, nothing substantial has been done to rectify this problem.U.S. policy towards Syria has been nothing short of a disaster, which is illustrated by the mass exodus from the region. President Obama has lost virtually all credibility in Syria and the State Department is relegated to begging Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to live up to what have largely been meaningless ceasefire agreements.Putin, while defending a barbaric regime, has positioned himself as the defender of Christians, who largely support and rely on Syria’s president for protection. Because of innefectual leadership, some argue the U.S. being sidelined is a positive. But the plight and cry of Syria’s Christians remain.The devastation of Christians and overall destruction of Syria has not received enough attention from Western media. Sen. Paul has exclaimed, “From Boston to Zanzibar, there is a worldwide war on Christianity.” Many others have sounded the alarm, but little is done.Ground zero for this war remains largely in Syria. While many countries have pulled their ambassadors and diplomats from Syria, countless church leaders and pastors choose to stay with their flocks while witnessing to the world with their blood. It’s a haunting and heroic testimony to observe.
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