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Syria protects people of all faiths against militants: President Assad

29 December 2013 10:00

342518_Assad-PopePresident Bashar al-Assad has sent a message to Pope Francis, saying that Damascus is determined to protect Syrians of all religions against the Takfiri militants operating inside Syria.

The message was delivered during a meeting between a Syrian government delegation that held talks at the Vatican with the Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and foreign affairs official Dominique Mamberti.

Assad expressed the Syrian government’s “determination to exercise its right to defend all its citizens, whatever their religion, against the crimes committed by the Takfiri bands who attack them in their homes, in their places of worship and in their neighborhoods.”

The Syrian president also stated that the ongoing crisis in Syria could be resolved only by a “national dialogue between Syrians without foreign interference, because the Syrian people is the sole master of its own destiny and it alone should its leadership.”

Assad censured the “military, logistic and material support being provided to the terrorists by neighboring countries.”

On Saturday, Vatican confirmed that a Syrian delegation “brought a message from President Assad for the Holy Father and explained the position of the Syrian government.”

In his first Urbi et Orbi (to the City [of Rome] and to the World) speech on Christmas Day, the Pope called for humanitarian aid for Syrians and an end to the violence in the country.

“Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fuelling hatred and vengeance,” the 77-year-old pontiff said on December 25.

“Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid.”

According to statistics compiled by the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions of others displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for nearly three years.

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