Damascus (Agenzia Fides) - Christians in Syria are "no guests or migratory birds". They "are part of the origin of the nation, and without them there is no pluralistic Syria". This is what Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Sunday, September 17, to a large delegation of participants in a room of the Damascus Hall at the annual youth gathering organized by the Syriac Orthodox Church. Responding to the questions posed by some of the young people present, the Syrian leader highlighted the failed attempts of the "extremists" of striking Syrian Christians in order to expel them from the Country, arguing that this operation was part of a larger design aimed at "dividing the region in sectarian States to justify the existence of the Jewish State".
During the meeting with young Christians, President Assad was accompanied by Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II. Three Bishops and numerous monks and priests of the Syriac Orthodox Church also took part in the gathering.
Recently Assad has repeatedly shown his closeness to senior Syriac Orthodox Church leaders. At the beginning of September, as reported by Agenzia Fides (see Fides 8/9/2017), the Syrian President also carried out a visit to the temporary seat of the Syriac Orthodox monastery of the Holy Cross, under construction, in the town of Saydnaya, accompanied by his wife Asma and other family members. On that occasion, Assad and his wife, accompanied by Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem, also met the children housed in the "Small Angel House", an orphanage supported by the Syriac Orthodox Church, and had lunch with them and with the monks and the nuns of the monastery. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 18/9/2017)