The airstrikes carried out by the United States, the United Kingdom and France against Syria on Friday constituted “unjust” and “brutal” aggression, the patriarchs of the major Christian Churches in Syria have said in a joint statement.
President Donald Trump ordered the airstrikes along with the U.K. and France in a joint show of military force following the suspected use of chemical warfare by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A total of 105 missiles targeted chemical weapons facilities in the country late Friday night.
Syria has been in the throes of a violent and turbulent civil war since 2011, which has killed nearly half a million and left 10 million displaced.
The Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic Churches condemned the attacks as pre-emptive and unjust, noting that there was not “sufficient and clear evidence” for the suspected chemical warfare attacks.
Furthermore, the patriarchs noted that the timing of “this unjustified aggression against Syria, when the independent International Commission for Inquiry was about to start its work in Syria, undermines of the work of this commission.”
The church leaders also noted that the attacks were uncalled for from countries that have not been attacked by Syria, constituting a “clear violation of the international laws and the U.N. Charter, because it is an unjustified assault on a sovereign country, member of the U.N.”
The patriarchs said that it was unlikely that the airstrikes will have the desired effect, and that they will only serve to encourage terrorists in the country and further delay a peaceful solution to the war.
They called on the U.N. to advocate for peaceful solutions in Syria, and asked for the prayers of all churchgoers in the United States, France and the U.K.
“We offer our prayers for the safety, victory, and deliverance of Syria from all kinds of wars and terrorism. We also pray for peace in Syria and throughout the world, and call for strengthening the efforts of the national reconciliation for the sake of protecting the country and preserving the dignity of all Syrians,” they said.
The statement was signed by John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Joseph Absi, Melkite-Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem.