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On Saturday, July 4th, an Iraqi Franciscan priest, Fr. Dhiya Aziz, was abducted by militants in Yacoubieh, Idlib province, which is located in northwest Syria. The area is presently under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra, a terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda. Thankfully, more recent reports indicate that he has since been safely released.

However, prior to the abduction, advances by Islamic State terrorists took place in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasaka on June 24th. This has resulted in further mass displacement of refugees, including Assyrian Christian families who had sought refuge in the city just this past February.

Christian leaders in the Middle East are now calling for renewed and urgent prayers for peace. Some feel frustrated by what they perceive as lack of support from the church in the West. Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad recently stated, "We feel forgotten and isolated."

Please uphold our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East who are under mounting pressure from Islamist terrorists. Ask our Almighty God to continue strengthening His dedicated servants as they provide needed relief to the tremendous number of displaced refugees in this part of the world. In keeping with our Lord's desire for all humanity, may there be an end to the violence and bloodshed so that His love and peace can reign supreme -- not only politically but, most importantly, in the hearts of those He so lovingly created.

Country Information

Population
20,384,316 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Arab (50), Alawite (15) Kurd (10), Levantine (10) other (15)

Religion (%)
Islam (87), Christianity (10), Druze (3)

Leader
President Bashar al-Asad (2000)

Government type
Presidential republic; highly authoritarian regime

Legal system
Mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law (for family courts)

Ssource: CIA World Factbook.

Pray for Syria

Pray that the Lord of hosts will intervene in Syria to "preserve all who love Him" and "frustrate the way of the wicked" (Psalm 145:20; Psalm 146:9). Ask that the Spirit of God will subvert the rebellion of the militant groups so the "will for peace" shall indeed prevail over "the will for war." May the Lord provide for Syria's churches, ensuring that they are adequately equipped with the necessary ministry tools, resources and workers to continue faithfully serving and ministering as lights in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16).

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Syria News

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    The Sham Legion is a group of 19
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    Photo: Wikipedia / Qasioun News Agency (cc)

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    Refugee camp
    Photo: Voice of America

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    Church leader Hovsep Bedoyan
    Photo: Middle East Concern /
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