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Christians marginalized in Syrian war

Aug. 5, 2013 at 11:15 AM   |   Comments

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DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Members of the minority Christian community in Syria say they've been marginalized or ignored during the ongoing civil war.

Christians make up about 10 percent of the Syrian population. Thousands of families from the Christian community in Syria, one of the oldest such communities in the world, have been forced out of their ancestral homes as the conflict drags on.

The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 Syrians have died as a result of the war, which began in early 2011. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent estimates nearly 5 million people, or about 20 percent of the total Syrian population, have been displaced by conflict since it began.

Syrian Christians told The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London they were trying to avoid taking sides in the conflict, though most are suspected of supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Shiite.

Christians told the newspaper under the protection of a pseudonym they tried to join peaceful demonstrations, but were left feeling they had no role in the revolution.

Bassam Ishak, a Christian member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, said he's tried to raise the issue with Western opponents of the Assad regime.

"The West wants to arm the seculars or 'West friendly' people, well we, the Syriac Christians are those people. We want arms to protect our communities," he said. "We spoke to western diplomats asking for help, and everyone ignored us."

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