Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Syria

Russia Fights for Christianity in Syria, the US Fights Against It

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So says the American Orthodox Institute:

Russian President Vladmir Putin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kyrill

The everyday signs in America show a growing contempt for Christianity. The exact opposite trend is happening for Russia and its leaders—a return to Christian roots.

Read on here.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

November 1, 2015 at 12:31

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Confused About Syria? Who’s Fighting and Why

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Tens of thousands are still fleeing this ancient part of the world.


Syria is a country of mountains, deserts and fertile plains, bordering Lebanon, the Mediterranean Sea, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. The country is largely populated by Sunni Muslims, but is also home to many other ethnic and religious groups: Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and Circassians, Christians, Shiites, Alawites, Druze, Mandeans, Salafis, and Yazidis.

The war in Syria has killed over 250,000 people and displaced over 12 million. Just today, tens of thousands are reported to be fleeing Aleppo with just the clothes on their backs, due to a  government offensive on rebel-held areas south of the city.

Although it began as a civil war, it has become much more and divided much of the Middle East, drawing in the United States and Russia. To better understand how Syria arrived to where it is today, Vox put together this simple video.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 31, 2015 at 21:42

Caught in the Middle: Mortar Shell Hits Church

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Attack occurred during communion, but the only people injured were outside the building.

Aleteia reports:


In an increasingly complicated time for the Syrian city of Aleppo, practically no place is completely safe. On Sunday, a mortar shell hit the Latin Catholic Church of St. Francis, in the al-Aziziyah district of the city, during Mass.

Fides news agency reported that the grenade, from areas held by anti-Assad rebels, hit the roof, tearing its dome but not penetrating it. Rather, the exposing injured seven people outside.

“If the grenade had exploded inside, there would have been a massacre,” commented Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the apostolic vicar of Aleppo. He said that there were about 400 people in the church for the evening Mass and that the incident occurred as people were receiving communion…

More on the incident here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 28, 2015 at 13:21

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Priest Blesses Missiles To Be Used For Airstrikes

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In Syria:

Actually, it looks like a Bishop…

In the above photo, an Orthodox priest blesses Russian missiles intended for airstrikes against Syrian rebels. According to Reuters reporter Noah Browning, the priest is sprinkling holy water on the missile before it is put aboard a Russian plane.

The blessing of missiles comes after Patriarch Kirill, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, declared that Russia’s intervention in Syria, which is aimed at the rebels currently aligned against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is a “holy battle.”

More here.

War. And the need to formulate a proper Christian response. One that is consistent. Sanctifying war? Surely, it cannot be so…

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 24, 2015 at 13:46

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ISIS Blows Up Arch of Triumph in Syria’s Palmyra

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Discovery News is reporting:

Islamic State extremists have blown up the famous Arch of Triumph in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, the country’s head of antiquities said Monday, as the jihadists press their campaign to tear down the treasured heritage site.

ISIS’ destruction of art in Iraq’s Mosul Museum generated a lot of outrage. Was there an ideological reason for the raid or was it vandalism?

“We have received news from the site that the Arch of Triumph was destroyed yesterday (Sunday). IS bobby-trapped it several weeks ago,” antiquities director Maamun Abdulkarim told AFP.

IS has carried out a sustained campaign of destruction against heritage sites in areas under its control in Syria and Iraq, and in mid-August beheaded the ancient city’s 82-year-old former antiquities chief.

The jihadists have already destroyed the shrine of Baal Shamin and the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel, regarded as Palmyra’s masterpiece, since overrunning the citadel in May.

The Arch of Triumph, situated at the entrance of the ancient ruins’ historic colonnaded street, was an “icon of Palmyra,” Abdulkarim said, warning that IS fighters have already laid explosives in other monuments.

“This is a systematic destruction of the city. They want to raze it completely,” he said.

“They want to destroy the amphitheatre, the colonnade. We now fear for the entire city,” he added, calling on the international community to “find a way to save Palmyra.”…

Rest here.

I’m afraid it may already be too late for the site by now.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

October 5, 2015 at 20:48

Will Russia’s ‘holy war’ save Syria’s Christians?

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In the Catholic Herald:

Vladimir Putin has outfoxed the West in the Middle East

The war in Syria has taken a significant turn these past few months, with the migrant crisis and the intervention of Russia. Even a few months ago one might have expected Bashar al-Assad’s downfall, and two years ago one would have bet the house on it.

Now, with the refugee crisis seriously threatening Europe’s governments and the almost comic ineffectiveness of American-trained Syrian rebels, Western leaders seem resigned to accepting Russian’s involvement and some sort of truce that allows Assad to stay.

Whatever one thinks of Vladimir Putin, he has certainly outplayed Barack Obama in Syria…

Read on here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 30, 2015 at 18:15

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IDF on High Alert in Golan Heights

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IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, tours the Bashan Brigade stationed at the border with Syria in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, on August 28, 2014. IDF forces have been reinforced along the Syrian border. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

Stand for Israel has been reporting on the developments across Israel’s border with Syria – of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters doing battle with Syrian forces. Israel is well aware of what is going on, and the IDF is on alert in the Golan Heights:
As a result of the fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, the level of alert was raised on the Israeli side, an army spokesperson said Thursday, without confirming that it had been increased to the highest level.
The announcement followed several incidents in the area, including the capture and execution of 160 Syrian soldiers by the Islamic State, gruesome pictures of which appeared online Thursday, and the abduction, also Thursday, of 43 Fijian U.N. peacekeepers by al-Qaeda-affiliate al-Nusra Front at the Quneitra crossing with Israel, where fighting has raged this week between Syrian rebels and government forces.
Please pray for the return of the captured U.N. peacekeepers, for God’s protection over the brave men and women defending Israel in this dangerous situation, and for God’s peace over all of His people.



Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 29, 2014 at 21:32

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