On Thursday 11 July, the Syriac Orthodox church of the Virgin Mary in Qamishli, North East Syria, was targeted in a car bomb attack. Although there are no known fatalities, state media reported that 11 civilians were injured and that the church and nearby properties sustained material damage.
The attack on the church, which is in the predominantly Christian district of al-Wusta, took place at 6pm, shortly before the end of the daily 5.30pm prayer service. Local residents note that there would have been far more casualties had the attack been carried out minutes later, and suggest that this may have been the intention of the perpetrators. The identity of the perpetrators has not yet been confirmed, although there is speculation that Daesh (Islamic State) were behind the attack.
Qamishli has seen similar attacks against Christian targets in recent years, notably in June 2016 when the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch survived an assassination attempt in which three others were killed.
Responding to the most recent incident, the Patriarch strongly condemned the attack as cowardly, suggesting that the perpetrators were intending to create worry and chaos among citizens and to destabilize the region.
Syrian Christians request prayer that:
a. those wounded and traumatized will know the presence and healing of Jesus
b. the Christian communities of Qamishli, and elsewhere in Syria, will not be intimidated by this attack but will be agents of reconciliation, healing, peace and hope
c. peace will be established in all parts of Syria, and that the rule of law will be applied equally for all citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or other status
d. all who are intent on violence will know the Spirit’s conviction of sin and respond to the Father’s offer of new life through the Son.
Open sources used: Assyrian Policy Institute, Agenzia Fides, SANA