Christian leaders condemn ISIL holiday attacks on Syrian city

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Christian leaders in the Middle East are condemning the “sinister” holiday bombings of Christian-owned restaurants in Qamishli, Syria by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

ISIL targeted Christian-owned restaurants in a Dec. 30 attack.
ISIL targeted Qamishli’s Christian-owned restaurants in a Dec. 30 attack.  /Twitter

ISIL claimed responsibility for three bombings on Dec. 30 that killed 20 people (13 of them Christians) and injured 40. Qamishli is home to a significant population of Syrian Christians.

“Most victims were young people willing to welcome the New Year with hope and joy,” Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan told the Catholic News Service. Instead, “in tears and gloomy hope, Christians of Qamishli welcomed 2016.”

“It was a sinister message the terrorists wanted to send to the Christians of this city, sowing death and tears,” the patriarch said, describing what he called an “unprecedented terrorist massacre…a message of horror so far to the entire Christian community in this war-torn country for the past five years.”

A joint statement by the Assyrian-Syriac Churches of Hasakah province said: “We dedicate this evening to prayers for the victims of those attacks. We pray for our region and country amid the bloody war that claims lives of civilians every day.”